Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NARFE Thanks President Obama for Signing into Law Re-Employed Annuitant and FERS Sick Leave Bills; Association’s Persistence Results In Victory

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste today commended President Obama for signing into law the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Authorization bill, which includes several civil service improvements long sought by NARFE.

“Enactment of this legislation to eliminate inequities, increase productivity and address the skills shortage in the civil service is a great victory for active and retired federal employees — and something that NARFE has worked for behind the scenes for a long time,” said NARFE President Baptiste. “We are happy the president has signed this important bill into law, and we are grateful to our friends in Congress who moved heaven and earth to include the civil service improvements in the final legislation.”

Baptiste praised Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, D-MD; Chris Van Hollen, D-MD; Frank R. Wolf, R-VA; James P. Moran, D-VA; Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC; Gerry E. Connolly, D-VA; John P. Sarbanes, D-MD; Donna F. Edwards, D-MD; Elijah E. 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. In addition, she thanked Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-NY; Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA; and Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-CT; Susan M. Collins, R-ME; Daniel K. Akaka, D-HI; and Jim Webb, D-VA, who served as the Defense bill conferees, for helping to persuade their colleagues, particularly Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-MO, to include the civil service provisions.

The new law allows federal agencies to re-employ federal retirees on a limited, part-time basis without offset of annuity; permits Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) workers to initially credit half, and in 2014 all, of their unused sick leave toward retirement; provides for retirement equity for federal employees in Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Territories; ends the Department of Defense’s pay-for-performance personnel system, the National Security Personnel System or NSPS, restoring employees to the federal General Schedule pay system; and includes other civil service provisions.

“During the past several years, NARFE has played a leading role, along with other federal and postal employee organizations, in overcoming many obstacles to achieve passage of these needed civil service improvements,” Baptiste said. “For example, absent NARFE’s persistence, legislation sponsored by Collins; Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI; and Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-OH, (S. 629) 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, when work force shortages have deprived some agencies of employees with critical and specialized skills,” Baptiste said.

Baptiste was particularly pleased that a compromise was reached on the FERS sick leave legislation by phasing in the allowance. “We recognize that the inequity in the treatment of accrued sick leave between FERS and CSRS has hurt productivity and increased agency costs,” Baptiste said. “For that reason, we have strongly supported the concept that all federal civilian retirement programs credit unused sick leave toward retirement.” The NARFE president specifically lauded Moran for being a long-time champion of this issue.

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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.

Note: APWU of Wisconsin members (especially those under FERS) may want to write letters to Senator Herb Kohl and thank him for his support.

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