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AFGE President J. David Cox Speaks on the Future of the Government Workforce

AFGE National President J. David Cox spoke Wednesday, Oct. 24 at a panel discussion addressing federal employees. Cox launched a passionate and sincere defense of federal employees, spelling out their contributions to our country and offering a message of compromise as the nation works to right itself amid rising deficits and a challenging economy. Cox joined Donald Kettl, Dean of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and Barbara Patboy, Associate Chief Human Capital Officer at the Treasury Department in a discussion about the future of the government workforce. The event was hosted by the American Society for Training & Development at its 2012 Learning Innovations Conference.

Recalling the fights over the years to balance the budget, protect programs such as social security and medicare, and continue the advancement of civil rights , Cox called for a return to the process of compromise, respect, and dignity that is often lacking in government today. As a former federal employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Cox recalled the years he spent working not only taking pride in what he did, but knowing that each individual he helped was an effort to support our country. He called for government workers to take pride in their work and not to be discouraged by recent political sentiment towards them.

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“I wouldn’t be here today without my first grade teacher who taught me to read and write, who was a public employee,” said Cox. “And when taxes come out of my check year after year, I’m happy that I could repay her for the service she’s done to better my life.”

The value of public service is often denigrated in the national conversation. Mr. Cox called for federal employees to champion the hard work they do in their day-to-day lives in order to re-frame the discussion from scapegoating federal employees to finding legitimate long-term solutions to the issues facing the nation.

In addressing our fiscal instability, the function of the various agencies and departments of the government must not and should not be compromised, said Cox. In recent years, federal employees have endured pay freezes, prompts to pay more into healthcare while receiving less benefits and job insecurity. Cox is calling for an end to the demonization and an appreciation for those who are proud to make America work.

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