Remember those surveys which showed that up to one third of federal workers were thinking of quitting their jobs as soon as Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th president? More than a few of them were obviously workers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where the media mournfully reported that workers were “coming to work in tears” over what was to become of their beloved agency. But for all of the angst and bluster showing up in the press we weren’t actually seeing many (if any) people making good on their promise. That is… until now. We’ve finally found that long sought after worker who took a stand, flipped the bird to Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump, fired off a take this job and shove it letter and walked off the job. And his name is Mike Cox. (Washington Post)
When Mike Cox quit, he did so with gusto.
After 25 years, he retired last week from the Environmental Protection Agency with a tough message for the boss, Administrator Scott Pruitt.
“I, along with many EPA staff, are becoming increasing alarmed about the direction of EPA under your leadership … ” Cox said in a letter to Pruitt. “The policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.”
Oh, my! How principled. How bold. And I love the way the Washington Post chooses to describe Cox’s actions. The headline informs us that he “leaves with a bang.” The opening paragraph lets us know that he “quit” and that “he did so with gusto.” But did he really?
Not really. In fact, he didn’t quit at all. He retired with 25 years of service… something he could have done at least five years earlier if he didn’t want to hang around and run out the clock to maximize his benefits. And speaking of which, Mike is in for a pretty sweet deal. If you calculate his Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) payout he’s looking at anywhere from a quarter to a half of his highest three year compensation average plus a host of other goodies. (Thanks, unions!) It’s a pretty sweet deal if you can get it.
When you think of someone “quitting” their job in righteous indignation it’s usually somebody taking a principled stand and leaving rather than being associated with an outfit which they find unacceptable. Mike is doing nothing of the sort. He could have stayed longer or left earlier, but he’s still going to be part of the program as he collects all of those generous, taxpayer funded checks for the rest of his life. This is not an example of biting the hand that feeds you because you’ve still got your snout in the troth.
Writing a nasty letter to your boss and bragging about it to the press is a far less impressive move when your boss can’t do a thing about it. Enjoy your retirement, Mike. I’m sure all of us out here in the private sector are just pleased as punch to be able to pay for your comfortable lifestyle for the rest of your days.