Recently, the media has portrayed federal employees as overpaid Washington bureaucrats earning six-figure salaries. Rather, we are dedicated, hardworking public servants right here in Philadelphia and across America. We are the very people who safeguard our borders and nuclear weapons, protect our air and water, inspect our food supply, process your paperwork for your retirement and disability benefits, and yes, even collect taxes.

Federal employees work on a merit-based pay scale, ranging from $21,682 to $155,500. Among frontline federal employees are highly educated, committed people who will never earn high-level salaries. If they do reach that level, many will need to work for the government for more than 20 years, and will still earn less than they could in the private sector doing comparable work.

It's disappointing that President Obama chose to freeze federal pay ("Pay freeze adds up," Thursday). In reality it is a cut in income as our health-care costs continue to skyrocket. Many of our spouses work, or worked, in the private sector, so if our spouses lost their jobs, we, like so many other Americans, are living on one paycheck, too.

We recognize there are serious budgetary issues before us, but undermining the federal workforce will only make it more difficult to seriously address these challenges. All of us, but the media in particular, should relay the facts, so the public will be well-informed and we can move forward as educated and informed citizens.

Wanda Long

President

National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 22

Philadelphia