Congress Continues Attacking Postal Workers
(This article first appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard
Throughout the course of the year, we have been informing you of attacks against postal employees and retirees by the 115th Congress.
Many of these attacks, such as those contained in recent budget proposals, have included cuts to postal/federal retirement benefits. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report in August detailing options to change the federal retirement system and how those changes would affect the federal budget. Members of Congress often look to these reports to justify their support of proposed cuts to workers’ benefits.
Change the FERS Pension Plan
• Option 1: Increase the pension contribution to 4.4 percent of salary for all employees. (Currently that rate is 0.8 percent for employees hired before 2013 and 3.1 percent for employees hired in 2013. It is already 4.4 percent for employees hired after 2013.)
• Option 2: Decrease the pension contribution rate to 0.8 percent for all employees.
• Option 3: Decrease pensions by basing the retire- ment benefit on the five years of highest salary (instead of the three years of highest salary, as in current law).
Replace the FERS Pension with Larger Government Contributions to TSP for New Employees
• Option 4: Eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) pension, increase the government’s automatic Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contribution to 8 percent of salary, and require the government to match up to 7 percent of additional contributions for new employees.
• Option 5: Eliminate the FERS pension, increase the government’s automatic TSP contribution to 10 percent of salary, and eliminate the government’s matching contribution to TSP.
While not set in stone, the options outlined above are predominantly dangerous and in step with both the House Budget Committee’s recommendations and the White House budget proposal.
Option 2 is the only welcome option. Postal and federal workers could stand to benefit with thousands of dollars more in annual take home pay. Further, it would restore some parity in pension treatment between new workers and their experienced colleagues.
These potential outcomes underscore the importance and urgency of the APWU’s ongoing campaign to protect postal/federal employee pay and retirement security. As new legislation is introduced (or existing legislation advances) we will keep you informed on how you can get involved.
Thanking you in advance for your continued help to defeat attempts to cut or eliminate pensions or slash the pay of workers and retirees.
The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756) – We support this bill moving through the legislative process. This bill advanced to the Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means Committees.
Medicare For All (H.R. 676 & S. 1804) – We support legislation introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-13) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for universal healthcare, ensuring access to high-quality affordable health care for all Americans, regardless of employment, income, or health care status.
The PAGE Act (H.R. 3257) – This anti-worker legislation introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN-4) would strip union representation and protections from new postal and federal employees, making them “at-will” employees subject to discipline or termination at management’s discretion.
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