Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Drive for Sick-Leave Credit Gains New Life

APWU Web News Article #074-09, June 26, 2009

The drive to win sick-leave credit for postal and federal workers covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was revived June 25, when the House of Representatives included the benefit in the 2010 Defense Authorization measure. The bill was approved in the House by a vote of 389-22, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The measure would grant FERS employees credit for unused sick leave when calculating their retirement annuity. Employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) already enjoy this benefit.

Prospects for the sick-leave credit looked bleak earlier this month, when it was it was stripped from the Senate version of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Although the House version of the tobacco bill included the FERS sick-leave provision, the Senate version was ultimately passed and sent to President Obama, who signed the legislation on June 22.

Federal and postal unions, including the APWU, immediately began urging congressional leaders to find another way to pass the sick-leave measure. The sick-leave provision was added to the 2010 Defense Authorization Measure (H.R. 2990) [PDF], which the Senate is expected to adopt.
“This is an important step forward,” said Legislative & Political Director Myke Reid.

“Representatives Jim Moran (D-VA), Ike Skelton (D-MO), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) were instrumental in assisting our efforts.”

Other provisions of the defense bill affecting federal and postal employees would:
  • Grant locality pay to postal and federal employees working in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, and roll the premium into their base pay for the purpose of annuity calculations;
  • Permit FERS employees who return to service and redeposit their annuities to receive credit for past years of service, and
  • Modify the way the CSRS calculates annuity payments for employees who retire as part-time workers.
The tobacco bill, which gave the Food & Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products, also contained an item of special interest to FERS-covered workers: It extends the Roth investment option to the Thrift Savings Plan. As a result, federal employees will be able to invest future after-tax contributions in the TSP in the Roth option. When they withdraw it, the money — including interest — will be tax-free. This important benefit is expected to be implemented in a year or two.

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