Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Prepare to hunker down in 2011


Those who represent federal employees (both union types and lawmakers) squeezed a lot of solid gains for feds from this outgoing Congress, especially in terms of improvements to retirement benefits, and—depending on your point of view—the demise of the National Security Personnel System.

Over the last six to nine months, things were markedly slower legislatively speaking, with the notable exception of this week’s passage of the long-awaited federal telework bill, which—pending President Obama’s signature—will kick in sometime in mid-2011.

But the new Congress will be different. Early indications are that the main task lying ahead of those who champion the rights of federal employees will be to hang onto the gains granted by the last Congress—and to hold the line on everything else.

Amid the anti-government sentiment out there, and echoed in the rhetoric of some politicians, “everything” means pretty much everything—including pay, retirement benefits, and federal jobs themselves.

From a PR perspective, sometimes the best strategy is to keep mum and not amplify an opponent’s message. Not this time. Federal employee organizations, sympathetic members of Congress, and administration officials like OPM Director John Berry will have their work cut out for them next year, speaking out to make sure feds get a fair shake in Congress and the media.

Hang onto your hats.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Nov 19, 2010 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 DF

Todays Fed bashing is reiminiscent of the 1970-80s when we were hounded like dogs in the media. I wonder if folks think about all that federal workers do to try and help make lives better. Probably not. My husband was layed off so we get by on my salary. Government needs to get rid of most of the layers of management because that would save alot of money. As a federal worker I work very hard for the pay I get and if the folks complaining were offered a job with the government they would take it in a minute. Just my 2 cents.

Mon, Nov 29, 2010

Unbelievable! This is unequal treatment of American citizens on Social Security. One group receives the full amount as accorded by law and the others are denied benefits they earned and paid for. How can this happen? Worse, how could it have been maintained nearly 30 years? It's time to fix this injustice and pay back every cent due since the inception of this law. If we can pay back racial and ethnic groups for national injustices going back hundreds of years, we can pay back Social Security recipients who were unjustly denied earned benefits going back only 30 years. Many seniors were thrown into poverty due to the enactment of WEP and it high time we fix this issue.

Mon, Nov 29, 2010 Sue St. Louis, MO

All I know I can say for sure is thank the good Lord that I have a job! Furlough days or pay freeze at least I still have healthcare and a lot more security than others! I do not like any of this and I have about had it with the Federal unions as well as others but let us keep this all in perspective at least we still have jobs! As we drive around the areas we live in there are a lot of people on the street and I mean children too, and thru no fault of their own these people are having to ask for hand outs and have to tell their children no to the most basic of treats; so please people quit whining we have it so much better than so many more out there. OK enough of my 2 cents worth! Have a wonderful day and a blessed holiday season in your warm house.

Wed, Nov 24, 2010 Arizona

Well, I'm a Veteran with 21 years in. If they RIF
I'll be one of the last ones out. As far as $150K+
per year...ha, I make less than $50k and live ok.
This all came about because the economy took a dive and Federal employees are always the first to take the hit because we have "job security."

In the private sector, they were making 2 and 3 times what the average blue collar Fed made and no one said a word...in fact they laughed at us.
Who is laughing now? Suck it up people. it will get better.

Tue, Nov 23, 2010 Editor

In response to "an intersted federal worker": The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 included not only the repeal of NSPS, but also a host of other measures. Among them was a measure permitting feds in the Federal Employees Retirement System to credit unused sick leave toward annuity calculations. Another measure extended locality pay to feds in non-foreign areas such as Alaska and Hawaii (prior to that, their tax-free COLA did not apply toward basic pay for retirement purposes). The law also updated work rules for reemployed annuitants—allowing them to return to service on a limited part-time basis without the penalty of an offset to their annuity. And the law also permitted former FERS employees who withdrew their retirement contributions to redeposit them, with interest, upon federal re-employment.

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