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20 LOW-PAID WORKERS FACE WHITE HOUSE CUTS

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The first targets of President Clinton's pledge to cut White House "payroll, perks and privileges" are lower-paid White House career workers with no job protection, some of them older women who have worked there for decades.

According to sources in the White House, about 20 employees of the White House correspondence unit, the office that deals with the millions of letters, telephone calls and other messages sent the president, got letters from Clinton last week notifying them their services would no longer be needed. White House officials confirmed such layoffs were occurring, but would not say how many, or which workers, were involved.In a letter to those he fired last Friday, Clinton thanked the workers for their service but said the White House staff "must lead the way by example and deed." The letter noted that Clinton would be bringing in "my own team" of political backers and reducing the size of the paid staff.

While all political employees in the White House expect, and mostly want, to leave when a new administration takes over, the White House also has hundreds of what one official called "worker bees," career employees who type, answer phones, do administrative work, and hundreds of other office and personal tasks. These workers serve "at the pleasure of the president" and, in order to get their jobs, sign written agreements making them "excepted" workers; that is, unprotected by the civil service or other government rules.