police on capitol steps (Sebastian Portillo/Shutterstock.com)

LEO equity: Unions urge feds to push Congress

Year after year, federal employee unions and other labor advocates have pushed to reform a harsh unfairness built into law enforcement retirement and benefits—as some feds get reasonable packages and others do not. 

Most federal law enforcement officers (LEOs) can retire after 20 years of service with enhanced retirement and benefits, due to uniquely dangerous and tough physical and mental demands placed on them in their work. Some fed law enforcement personnel originally left out of this better retirement scheme have since been included by congressional action over the years—for example, the U.S. Secret Service and the federal Park Police. 

But many other LEOs—who just are not classified in the same way as LEOs who qualify for the more generous benefits—have not. These include many thousands who work for the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Police, police at the U.S. Mint, the Government Publishing Office (GPO) Police and others. Also left out are the Federal Protective Service (FPS) and others who secure federal facilities. 

So, here we go again for 2021, and backers of reform are upping the ante. They point to the increased stress over the past year of extraordinary demands on fed first responders and law enforcement officers (LEOs)—with continuing clashes at protests and the Jan. 6 violence against police at the Capitol, COVID injuries and deaths, record-breaking fires and other natural disasters that put federal law enforcement at risk. 

“NFFE is calling on all union members to contact their representatives in Congress to urge them to pass H.R. 962, The Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act,” the union urged this month. “NFFE is working tirelessly on Capitol Hill to push for this legislation to become law, but everyone’s support is needed for its passing.” 

Many "officers are not provided a Federal Law Enforcement Officers Retirement Plan and are currently under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which is not a law enforcement retirement system," NFFE added. 

Getting the bill passed would correct the situation for more than 30,000 feds, supporters say.

Additional federal and non-federal labor orgs pressing for members to contact Congress and gain passage include the American Federation of Government Employees, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the Fraternal Order of Police, among others. 

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