For 16 years, Colleen M. Kelly has led the National Treasury Employees Union, the second largest union representing federal employees. This week, Tony Reardon was elected to succeed her, receiving 86% of the vote against three opponents. Here are Reardon’s answers to two of the four questions posed by the Washington Post to all four candidates. His answers illustrate that most of us have more reason for solidarity with IRS employees than we might ever have guessed.
What are the basic elements of your campaign platform?
I am an experienced NTEU leader who has and will continue to fight tirelessly for our members. I have worked closely with Colleen Kelley and every NTEU represented bargaining unit for the past 25 years. I am committed to working with our chapter leaders and our members to define and construct a shared vision for NTEU’s future, one that prepares us to meet the challenges of the future.
I am passionate about the hopes and dreams of our members and I will work to ensure that they receive fair pay and a secure retirement, can rely on fair promotion and appraisal systems, are treated with dignity and respect, and have the tools and resources needed to effectively do their jobs.
I will continue and enhance NTEU’s strong workplace representation model and our unparalleled bargaining model. I will always seek to increase the involvement of our chapters and our members. I will focus on growing our union by recruiting more members and organizing additional employees.
I have the knowledge, skills and experience to lead an organization of this size.
What are the most important issues affecting federal employees today?
–Protecting employees in the aftermath of the cyberbreach and from future breaches. All federal employees and their affected family members absolutely should receive lifetime coverage. I am extremely concerned that it is taking so long to notify employees affected by the second breach.
–Fair pay. Federal employees are falling further behind the private sector. Federal employees went without raises in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The 1 percent raises in 2014 and 2015 are inadequate to keep pace with rising costs. Long term, failure to adequately pay our federal employees is going to severely damage the government’s ability to recruit and retain talented workers.
–Protecting federal retirement. The proposals to weaken federal retirement are incredibly disturbing, especially when you consider that our country is facing a retirement crisis since so many did not have adequate savings. Federal workers spend their professional lives serving their country and deserve the modest retirement income that they were promised and earned.
–Adequate funding for agencies including the IRS. The cuts we have seen to agency budgets are short-sighted and damaging to our country’s ability to protect and serve the public. The last five years of funding cuts have been devastating to the agency’s ability to carry out its mission. The IRS funds the rest of government. Failing to fund the IRS hurts our entire country.
–Safeguarding employee and union rights. There is a very good reason employees have due process rights. A system that eliminates those constitutionally-provided rights will not be a fair system and is not in the best interest of our nation. Eliminating or restricting due process will discourage workers from speaking up and expose employees to unfair treatment.