When we were first informed of the plans being organized to “buy out” thousands of EPA employees I’ll confess that I was a bit outraged. Having been through a few “downsizing” maneuvers in the private sector myself, it seemed nearly unthinkable that the nation’s elected representatives would go along with such a giveaway. They were talking about “retirement” plans for people who had put in nowhere near the required amount of time to qualify and huge severance checks for workers who had barely been on the job long enough to merit two performance reviews. After a while I began to suspect that this was just an unpleasant dream I’d experienced after ordering pizza with too many spicy peppers on it.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. As Government Executive was reporting last night, the plan is very real and it’s moving forward full speed ahead. (Emphasis added)
The Environmental Protection Agency will attempt to persuade more than 1,200 employees to leave their jobs through separation incentives, according to an internal memorandum.
EPA has not formally sent the early retirement and buyout offers to employees, according to the memo obtained by Government Executive, but it plans to begin the process shortly. The agency has sent its requests for buyouts and early outs to the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget for approval.
While it awaits that decision, EPA has engaged the agency’s labor unions to reach memoranda of understanding that will guide the program’s details.
I realize how quaint this may sound to labor union representatives, but on behalf of the vast majority of the nation which works in the private sector allow me to once again ask… Are You Effing Kidding Me? Since when does an employee need to be “persuaded to leave their job” in this country? When there is no more work for you to do and your position is being eliminated (or if you’re a criminal or simply bad at your job) nobody needs to persuade you to leave. You’re given a pink slip and and you go collect unemployment while you begin interviewing for a new position.
And since when does the employer require a “memorandum of understanding” with the unions? Here’s what they need to understand. We have X number of workers on the payroll. We can only afford to keep Y number of workers, which is several thousand less. That means they won’t be working here after next month. If you really represent them as a union you should probably hit the streets and start looking for new work for them.
The EPA is still saying they’ll be offering a $25K buyout to people who have only been there for three years. That’s more than an entire year’s salary for many hard working folks. How much severance do you think 36 months on the job is supposed to buy you? Others who have nowhere near enough time on the job to actually retire will be doing so anyway through something called the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority. Isn’t that nice? Do any of you folks in the private sector have an actual retirement plan with a pension and benefits paid for by your employer anymore? More to the point, even if you have one is it being entirely funded by the taxpayers?
The whole idea of trimming down the various agencies of the federal behemoth (in addition to scaling their mission back to include only things they were supposed to have the authority to do in the first place) was to reduce spending and save us some money. Making sure that we, as taxpayers, keep funding fat severance checks and a plush retirement for people who have barely put any time into the system seems to fly in the face of that idea. Is there nobody in the Freedom Caucus or elsewhere who can introduce legislation to bring a little sanity to this process? We shouldn’t be on the hook for this wild scheme.