NTEU Opposes Benefit Cuts to Federal Workers’ Comp Program

Wednesday, May 20 2015
Washington, D.C.—Congress should reject proposals to slash workers’ compensation benefits for federal employees who get hurt on the job, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) told a House panel today.In a statement to the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley said the union opposes proposals that seek to cut benefits for employees and their families and force injured workers to move to retirement status.“Forcing a worker at retirement age to give up regular workers’ comp benefits and live on the income from retirement savings put aside until his or her work life was interrupted by an on-the-job injury would cause grave economic hardship to many disabled employees,” President Kelley said.

As in the past, NTEU is willing to work in a bipartisan manner to improve the workers’ compensation insurance program set up by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), “while always keeping in mind this is an issue of human dignity,” the NTEU leader wrote.

“NTEU very much wants to work with this subcommittee or any other policymaker to find ways to reduce the costs of the FECA program, as we did in 2011,” she wrote. “The best way to do so is not by reducing benefits or denying claims but by preventing the occurrence of injuries.”

The NTEU leader wrote that the program needs a “change in management practices and culture” more than legislative fixes. According to reports from NTEU members, some agency managers are uninterested in helping FECA recipients return to work by offering light duty assignments, approving alternative worksites and making disability accommodations, President Kelley wrote.

NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

 

NTEU Backs Bill To End Higher Federal Pension Contributions

Washington, D.C.—The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) endorsed a House bill today that would end a congressional mandate under which recent and new federal hires must make bigger pension contributions than long-time employees.

Congress raised Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) contributions for new hires in 2012 to help pay for an extension of unemployment insurance, and again in 2013 to help offset spending as part of a budget agreement. FERS, which covers most federal workers, is considered a model pension program for many reasons, including the fact that it is adequately funded

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Bonuses

Bonus pay for 1.3 million federal workers fell dramatically last year, dropping nearly 50 percent as a result of budget cuts tied to a partial government shutdown and recent caps on employee awards.  See the link, below.

With across-the-board sequestration cuts looming, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed agencies to cancel most discretionary bonuses that weren’t required by law.  Fortunately, those required by law include bonuses specified in collective bargaining agreements such as ours.   And the overwhelming majority of our unit earned a bonus—some substantial—last year.  These bonuses continue this year.

This is one of many benefits we  provide.  If you are not yet a member, please consider joining.  Thanks.

http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20140505/NJNEWS11/305050011/Federal-bonus-pay-cut-half?nclick_check=1

Howard

Bad Bills

Bad Bills

Click here for the Bad Bills Flier on pending legislation that will negatively impact federal employee pay, retirement, jobs and more. Needless to say, NTEU’s legislative department is working hard to prevent passage of these bills.  You can help by visiting NTEU’s Legislative Action Center.

Transit Subsidy

Also, NTEU National’s communications department is seeking a member to speak with on transit subsidies for a Bulletin story. Ideally, they’d like someone with a long public transit commute who had the higher subsidy and now is paying out of pocket because of the drop. Let me know if you fit the bill.

 

NTEU Urges “No” Vote on Ryan Budget

SUMMARY:  NTEU sent a letter to every member of the House of Representatives urging a “no” vote on H Con Res 96, the House Budget Resolution

Today, NTEU sent a letter to every member of the House of Representatives urging a “no” vote on H Con Res 96, the House Budget Resolution authored by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The House will vote later this week. NTEU made clear to the Representatives that this budget would put hugely disproportionate burdens on federal employees and reminded them that federal employees have already contributed $138 billion in deficit reduction, more than any other group.

The Ryan budget calls for $125 billion in savings from the federal retirement system, including higher pension contributions (or the equivalent of pay cuts) for all federal employees which could amount to 5 to 6% of salary and the end of the FERS supplement, which substitutes for Social Security payments for employees eligible to retire before age 62. While these two proposals have been included in Chairman Ryan’s proposals in the past, the FY 2015 proposal also calls for a transition to a defined contribution plan, in other words, the end of any defined benefit annuity and a change to the 401(k)-type, TSP-only plan.

The Ryan budget also proposes limiting federal hiring to one replacement for every three employees who leave, along with other unspecified cuts to federal pay and benefits. And it proposes to eliminate repayment by the government of student loans for federal employees. It also extends sequestration an additional three years, until 2024. A copy of the letter is attached.

Full text of letter: NTEU Urges No Vote on HConRes96

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Updates on Telework, Bar Dues, and More

Good morning.  Here is an update on various matters.

Telework

Now that rating season is over, expect to see announcements soon on the new telework programs, including informational sessions.

Bar Dues

Information will also be forthcoming on the procedures for being reimbursed.

Automation Problems

As a reminder, if you are having automation problems, including slowness or other problems with X-Search, contact TWAH problems. As frustrating and time-consuming as that may be, unless  CIO and Trademark management see that there are open tickets, they assume all is fine, which is simply not the case.  We know, in particular, that X-Search is slower after 6:00 p.m. for many of you.

Heath Insurance

NTEU members will again have access to Consumers’ Checkbook’s online Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants.  All NTEU members who currently or are planning to participate in Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plans or the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) are eligible to use this online guide.

The guide is available through NTEU’s web site, www.nteu.org, in the “Member Benefits” section throughout Open Season (November 11, 2013 – December 9, 2013).  It will remain available throughout 2014 for NTEU members who are new hires or are current enrollees with a qualifying life event change.  The online guide was developed by Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit organization that has published an annual paperback version of its guide for more than 30 years.

The online guide is an innovative way to obtain reliable, useful information about the many health plans available under the FEHB and make fast, easy, personalized plan comparisons.  The guide compares and ranks plans based on total costs including account premiums and estimated out-of-pocket costs (e.g., deductibles, co-payments, and prescription drugs); and on the yearly maximum that an enrollee could possibly have to pay out-of-pocket.  The guide will also offer comparisons of the FEDVIP dental and vision plans available to federal employees.

This online tool is available beginning the first day of the federal open season, November 11, 2013.  Attached is a flyer.

Thanking Federal Employees

Also attached are some of the remarks Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made last week thanking NTEU and other unions for their advocacy on behalf of federal employees during the shutdown.

Quality Working Group

This group, consisting of management and NTEU 245 representatives, will be meeting soon now that rating season is over to continue tackling quality issues you have raised, including the amount of evidence required in a first action to be

considered excellent.  We have made substantial progress, including modifying examination practice for first action section 2(a) Deceptiveness refusals and  suggesting that examiners not have to dig up extrinsic evidence under certain situations to support a disclaimer (for which input is now being received).

Let us know how we can help you.

Howar

Kelley Says Employees Deserve a Bigger 2015 Pay Raise

President Colleen M. Kelley was critical of a proposed 1 percent pay increase for federal employees that will be included in the administration’s budget blueprint due out next month.

“I strongly believe that federal employees deserve more and this amount is inadequate,” Kelley said, adding that NTEU believes a 3.3 percent pay raise is a fair and reasonable amount. This week, during the union’s legislative conference, NTEU members will be visiting their members of Congress to make that case.

Federal workers have done more than their fair share to reduce the federal deficit, contributing $138 billion toward deficit reduction over 10 years from the pay freeze and from higher pension contributions from new federal hires. The continuing policy of sequestration is preventing the investments necessary for the good of the nation including investing in federal workers, said President Kelley.

NTEU is pleased to see the end of the pay freeze but believes federal employee pay must begin catching up.

NTEU Legislative Conference Begins Tomorrow

Hundreds of NTEU members from around the country and across federal agencies will be meeting in the nation’s capital to personally deliver an important message to lawmakers: support federal workers.

This is the theme of the annual, three-day NTEU Legislative Conference, set to begin tomorrow. The event features a rally at noon on Thursday on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and meetings with representatives and senators on the union’s priority issues for the year. They include:

  • Ending sequestration and securing adequate agency funding.
  • An adequate federal pay raise for 2015 and highlighting the negative effect of the three-year pay freeze.
  • Protecting the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
  • Opposing efforts to increase employee contributions to their retirement and cutting benefits.
  • Lowering the federal contractor reimbursement cap and eliminating inefficient and unnecessary contracting.

Stay tuned to the NTEU e-Bulletin for news and photos from the conference.