NARFE Disappointed in Committee Action on USPS Reform Legislation

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) is deeply disappointed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756, without addressing the serious concerns of 76,000 postal retirees who would be forced to enroll in Medicare under the bill.

 

“There are many solutions to the financial problems facing the U.S. Postal Service, all of which the Committee unfortunately has rejected in favor of balancing the books of the USPS on the backs of its retirees. In doing so, this legislation forces 76,000 current postal retirees who are satisfied with their current health insurance coverage to pay an additional $1,600 per year, or more, to receive coverage through Medicare.

“While the majority of federal and postal retirees choose Medicare when they turn age 65, those without it actively made the decision not to enroll. The reasons for doing are numerous and personal, and it was their choice. That choice should not be eliminated now because Congress is unwilling to make more politically difficult decisions.

“After finishing long careers with USPS, postal retirees should not be threatened with the loss of their health insurance entirely if they do not buy additional coverage through Medicare. This not only eliminates choice with regard to health insurance for postal retirees living on fixed incomes, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for all federal retirees. The committee is sending all retirees a very dangerous message with approval of this bill – we can, and will, change your retirement benefits, after you’ve retired and are living on fixed incomes, without regard to whether or not you can afford it.

“NARFE, as an organization representing postal retirees and as a customer of the Postal Service, is committed to supporting legislation that provides much needed reforms to USPS that allow for its long-term stability. However, we remain disappointed that the Committee failed to once again consider our simple, fair and reasonable alternative: maintain automatic enrollment of current postal retirees into Medicare Part B, but provide them with a short opt-out window of 60 or 90 days. Without this option, the bill breaks an unwritten promise regarding retiree health benefits and replaces the individual postal retiree’s choice of health insurance with a paternalistic requirement, at significant cost to the Medicare program.”

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Valley unions react to proposed Right-to-Work Bill

A group of Ohio Republicans are backing a bill that would make Ohio a “right-to-work” state for workers in the private sector.

Eleven-percent of the Mahoning Valley’s private sector jobs are held by union employees.

It’s significantly smaller number in comparison to a time when the region was known for its thriving steel industry.

Renewed pressure in Columbus to eliminate any requirement for workers to join a union as a condition of employment comes as the nation’s 28th state joins the right-to-work ranks. This month Michigan became the latest state surrounding Ohio, falling in line with Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

“We will be forced to? Maybe,” Tom Humphries said, current president and CEO of theYoungstown-Warren Regional Chamber.

If Pennsylvania becomes a right-to-work state, Humphries says that would put pressure on Ohio, since the two states often compete for the same jobs.

Humphries says sometimes large-scale employers and businesses opt out of coming to Ohio because of its union requirements.

“It happens every once in a while, they’re not quite always that forward with you as to why they don’t come here, but we’ve been able to pick that up,” he said.

The United Auto Workers and Western Reserve Building Trades are openly against changing the law as it stands now.   They fear it will lead to lower wages and would threaten the union structure.

“We have to end up representing people that aren’t paying their fair share and that weakens the union,” said Rocky DiGennnaro, president of the Western Reserve Building Trades.

DiGennaro represents more than 7,000 members across Mahoning, Columbiana and Trumbull counties. He says they pay for their own training, apprenticeships, healthcare and fund their own pensions.

“If we don’t like something, we can mobilize our troops to speak out against,” he said. “Right to work is wrong for Ohio.”

It’s been six years since Ohio Republicans pushed for legislation that would limit collective bargaining rights for public union employees. Ohio Governor John Kasich has stated in past interviews with 21 News that the voters spoke when they repealed Senate Bill 5.

Ohio Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) introduced House Bill 53 in early February, with 12 Republican co-sponsors. He tells 21 News “he’s confident” the bill will clear the Ohio House, but he says it’s too soon to know if it has a chance of passing through the Ohio Senate.

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OPM: Don’t Fall For a Fake Retirement Scam

From the Office of Personnel Management (OPM):

3/15/2017 Be on the Alert for an aggressive phone scam that targets Federal annuitants: The scammer claims to be an OPM employee.  The scammer threatens to end the annuitant’s retirement, threatens that a “magistrate” will criminally prosecute, and demands an immediate payment.  This is a government imposter scam – Do not send money.

Any communication of this type is NOT from an OPM official.  OPM will not make such calls.  Scams like this one are carried out by skilled imposters, who may sound convincing. They may use real names and titles – and they may know a lot about their targets, including personally identifiable information.  The scammers may alter the caller ID to make it look like OPM is calling.  Scammers may also attempt to use email to “phish” for more information.  Finally, these imposters may leave an “urgent” callback request.  Don’t fall for it.

Signs of a SCAM (and these are actions OPM does NOT do):

  1. Call to demand immediate payment.
  2. Demand that you pay a debt first before any appeal.
  3. Request that you pay using gift cards, prepaid debit or credit cards, wire transfers, Western Union, MoneyGram, or PayPal, etc.
  4. Request for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or by email.
  5. Threaten referral to a Magistrate, the police, or law enforcement.

If you suspect the caller is an imposter:

  • Do not engage with the callers. Simply hang-up.
  • Note the date and time of the call, as well as the caller’s phone number.
  • Report it to OPM’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG),https://www.opm.gov/our-inspector-general/

For Help and to Report suspected fraud:

  1. Call the OIG Hotline:  877-499-7295.
  2. Click to report online, Hotline Complaint Form
  3. Write:OPM OIG
               1900 E Street NW, Room 6400
    Washington, DC 20415-1100

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a report on government imposter scams,https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0048-government-imposter-scams.  You may also report suspected fraud to the FTC athttps://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

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