RE-EMPLOYED ANNUITANT AND FERS SICK LEAVE BILLS IN FINAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION
NARFE, October 7, 2009
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste today praised Senators Carl Levin, D-MI, and John McCain, R-AZ, and Reps. Ike Skelton, D-MO, and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-CA, (the chairs and ranking members of their respective chambers’ Armed Services Committees) and other members of the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Authorization conference committee for including several civil service improvements in the final legislation.
The final agreement would allow federal agencies to re-employ federal retirees on a limited, part-time basis without offset of annuity; permit Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) workers to initially credit half, and later all, of their unused sick leave toward retirement; and provide for retirement equity for Federal employees in Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Territories. The Conference Agreement is expected to pass the House and Senate.
“During the past several years, NARFE has played a leading role, along with other federal and postal employee organizations, in overcoming several obstacles to pass these needed civil service improvements,” President Baptiste said. “For example, absent NARFE’s persistence, legislation (S. 629) sponsored by Senators Susan Collins, R-ME, Herb Kohl, D-WI, and George Voinovich, R-OH, to allow federal retirees to be re-employed by the government would not have been included in the final Defense bill. Many Federal retirees continue to make critical contributions to our safety and well-being during this time of national need and when workforce shortages have deprived some agencies of employees with critical and specialized skills,” Baptiste said. “This is a victory for active and retired federal employees.”
Baptiste was particularly pleased that a compromise was reached on the FERS sick leave legislation by phasing in the allowance. When Congress created FERS in 1986, the benefit of allowing workers to apply their unused sick leave toward retirement was traded off for other FERS benefits not available under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). “However, with the benefit of 23 years of hindsight, we recognize that the inequity in the treatment of accrued sick leave between FERS and CSRS has hurt productivity and increased agency costs. For that reason, we have strongly supported the concept that all federal civilian retirement programs credit unused sick leave toward retirement,” Baptiste said.
The NARFE president specifically lauded Rep. James Moran, D-VA, for introducing his own FERS sick leave equity bill (H.R. 958) and for being a long-time champion of the issue. Baptiste also commended Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-NY, Stephen Lynch, D-MA, and Senators Joseph Lieberman, I-CT, Susan Collins, R-ME, Daniel Akaka, D-HI and James Webb, D-VA, who served as the Defense bill conferees, for helping to persuade their colleagues to include the civil service provisions. In addition, she thanked Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, Frank Wolf, R-VA, Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, Gerry E. Connolly, D-VA, Paul Sarbanes, D-MD, Donna Edwards, D-MD, Elijah Cummings, D-MD, and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-MD, for the significant role they played in this victory on behalf of NARFE and the federal/postal community.
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NARFE, one of America’s oldest and largest associations, was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. The largest federal employee/ retiree organization, NARFE represents the retirement interests of nearly 5 million current and future federal annuitants, spouses, and survivors.