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By Mike Causey @mcauseyWFED
October 10, 2017 1:00 am
In a worst-case scenario on Capitol Hill, federal and postal workers could be hit by changes that would permanently cut their take-home pay, make voluntary or mandatory early retirement more costly and eliminate the FERS retirement program for future hires. But there is light, maybe, at the end of the tunnel. If you flex your political muscle.
In addition to increasing employee contributions to the FERS plan (by 1 percentage point each year for six years) the budget resolution would gradually decrease the government’s share of employee-retiree health premiums. Currently, agencies pay an average of 72 percent of the total premium. Under the new budget plan, government contributions would be linked to the cost of living, gradually lowering them while forcing workers and retirees to pay a larger portion of the total premium.
When and if the budget plan is approved — and the Senate would have to agree — the government would eliminate the supplemental benefit for employees who retire before age 62 (when they become eligible for Social Security). Those supplement payments can be worth thousands of dollars. Many federal workers — law enforcement officers, firefighters and others in high-stress jobs — are forced to retire at age 57. The financial hit to them would be very serious.
There have been efforts, under both Republicans and Democrats, to reduce federal worker/retiree benefits for years. Unions, professional associations and groups representing retirees have successfully fought them off. But this year may be different.
Ask the CIO: Online Chat with John Owens of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Richard G. Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said the budget “sets the stage for broken promises, lower paychecks and less retirement and health security” for workers and retirees.
National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said it’s “a mean-spirited” effort to make active and retired feds pay for proposed tax cuts for the wealthy. He said feds have already lost $200 million in the name of deficit reduction and through the three-year federal pay freeze.
The Senate is taking a different budget path. When its plan is passed, it will have to be reconciled with the very different House package later this month. So the nail-biting will continue for a while. Meantime …
The good news, if you can find any from this, is that the House vote approving the budget package was close: 219-206. Nine members did not vote!
Which is where you come in.
The vast majority of federal workers are not inside the Beltway. Not even close. Feds live, work and vote in every city, town and county in the U.S. They are a major presence from Alaska and Oklahoma to North and South Carolina. And Texas. And Florida. And California. And New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana. Just about everywhere, except maybe Vermont. In some places — Ogden,Utah and Huntsville, Alabama — the government is the employer. And local merchants who depend on the federal salary (and retiree) dollar know it. But it wouldn’t hurt to remind them. And your member of Congress. If they voted for you, thank them (using your home computer to generate the email). If they voted against, you let them know that you are out there (as in back home) and watching closely. And eagerly awaiting the next election.
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Yesterday at 5:30am ·
As many of you know I was in Vegas during the mass shooting on Oct 1st. Many of you were there as well for the APWU All Craft Conference. It started off like any Conference trip in Vegas.. filled with excitement and plans to see and do things that you can only find in Vegas. 24 hours in Vegas and everything changed. I was staying a little over a mile away from Mandalay Bay Hotel. I had ate dinner with friends at the Paris Casino and afterwards decided to call it a night. I walked back to my hotel and went to sleep. At roughly 1am I woke up to the TV announcing 2 deaths at the end of the strip. I thought to myself how unfortunate it was and assumed it was a robbery or car jacking gone wrong. I easily fell back asleep. When I awoke at 6 am is when I learned the true impact of the nights events. I grabbed my phone and had countless texts and calls from friends family and coworkers. I was baffled as to why and then then when my head was clear I heard the news reports. I called my wife and my mother who both were frantic and worried as I have a habit of going to concerts when I am out of town.
The following days were very somber in Vegas. Vegas had lost that free spirit and fun atmosphere it has had in the past. The shooting itself was rather surreal.
I was informed that one of my friends was at the concert but he was ok. I was so very grateful he made it out safe but my heart just ached for those who didn’t make it.
The police presence was the heaviest I had ever seen it in Vegas. There wasn’t a corner or casino where you didn’t see police or security of some type. Las Vegas may never sleep but it truly slowed down.
I heard several stories from friends from different parts of strip and their experiences of the shooting and most were right in line with each other. It left many of us scratching our heads and left us wondering what had truly happen. This was truly one of those rare Union events where I couldn’t wait to leave.
This unfortunate chain of events in Vegas has forever changed me. It’s taken quite some time for me to wrap my head around what has happen. I still don’t know if I fully comprehend what happen and I may never truly understand it. One thing I learned from my week in Vegas, never let things go unsaid. Cherish each day God gives you on the beautiful earth. Hold your loved ones and your children tight. Make sure each person in your life knows how you feel and how much you care. We are not promised tomorrow. Live , love and most of all… be thankful for all the blessings God has bestowed upon you in your life. Never take advantage of the fact you woke up… live each day as though it’s your last. Find peace within yourself and make peace with those in your life. Keep those who didn’t get to go home from the concert in Vegas in your prayers.
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From SWFAL-APWU’s Samuel Wood
Last week, I was in Las Vegas during the horrible massacre that took place. My local delegation and other APWU leaders volunteered at a local Las Vegas Blood Center and were deeply touched by what we witnessed. Together, we wanted to do more. So, the Southwest Florida Area Local membership with the help of Laura Bethel of Matteo Graphics decided to design t-shirts to benefit those affected in the Las Vegas shooting. For a donation of $10 or more ($13 or more for 2XL or larger sizes), you will receive one of these t-shirts. All monies raised above the cost for the shirts will be sent back to Las Vegas to help those affected by this tragedy. These shirts are American Made and will be sent as early as next week.
To donate and receive yours, send a check made out to “SWFAL-APWU” and send to:
11000 Metro Pkwy. Suite 8
Fort Myers, Fl 33966
Please note the size you need and the address to send to.
Feel free to share this post for those who would like to help us “Make A Difference!”
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