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Federal Employees News Digest : Nov. 5, 2012
4 visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com threat was agreed to, then, fundamen- tally as a tool to reduce the deficit [if negotiations fail.] Now, both sides have said that we need a balanced approach to reducing the deficit. Yet, at this point, there have been no other serious pro- posals, none beyond Simpson-Bowles [2010's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform]. If we shift gears, and talk about federal employees, already they have given more---over the last two to three years---to reduce the deficit than any other group, I believe. Feds have already contributed about $60 billion in income lost due to the pay freeze. Also, feds continue to provide 3.2 percent per paycheck in recent, new retirement formulas, to receive the same pension. That's another $15 billion in contributions from feds toward the defi- cit. By the way, these numbers---these sacrifices---add up to a lot more when you calculate them out beyond 10 years. So, federal employees have done more than their fair share. Lawmakers and the rest of the government should come to an agreement that recognizes this sacrifice. Are you still talking to the relevant play- ers, those who control the budget? Bythrow: We work with the White House, the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, and the key committees involved on Capitol Hill. We discuss sequestration, and all other issues here that affect federal employees. So, we know it's your aim---but is there still hope, in your expert opinion, that an agreement can be had and sequestration can be avoided? Bythrow: You know, anything is still possible. There are very few issues where I think both sides can be compelled to act. But this one, in my personal opinion, could be one of those. We are not operat- ing on hope alone. We are rolling up our sleeves. We, and other federal unions, are working with the White House and OMB as hard as we can, to make sure that fed- eral employees get the best deal, and that we avoid sequestration. What advice do you offer your members, so they can help you win on pay? Bythrow: Don't suffer silently. Your voice really matters. Remember that very recently concerned people actual- ly shut down the White House switch- board over one of the threatened gov- ernment shutdowns in these ongoing budget battles, because so many people called in. When things like that hap- pen, powerful people pay attention. I know many people feel like the wheels of power move only for the big guy, not the little guy. But, sometimes, usu- ally, if enough voices come together in unison, saying we do not want this law or problem to happen, things can happen. If enough people say this will hurt me---my livelihood, my family, my community---then government has no choice but to listen. A lot of House representatives are doing town halls. We urge federal employees to attend these events. Ask the questions about federal employees. We urge you to call and write your representatives. We urge you to use the power that you have---and make your issues an issue in this campaign. It will never be an issue, unless you make it an issue. ••• Retirees face tighter times Deepening concerns among employ- ees facing retirement---and a sense that retirement income from government and private sources may not meet their needs---is not unique to workers in the United States, according to a recent nine-country survey. Aegon, an international life insur- ance, pensions and assets management company, earlier this year set out to discover how today's crop of workers feels about the financial resources they expect to have in retirement. The com- pany's "retirement readiness" survey, conducted by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and Cicero Consulting, interviewed 9,000 people in nine countries using an online panel survey in January and February 2012. The survey compiled responses from 8,100 working employees and 900 retir- ees in France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Three-quarters of respondents acknowledged that due to cuts in gov- ernment spending, their government pension benefits---from Social Security and comparable programs outside of the United States---will become less sub- stantial. In the same vein, more than 70 percent of respondents indicated that they feel they are now responsible for saving for their own retirement. Among both American and foreign respon- dents, most think they are not on course to reach the level of retirement income they would like to have. Overall, a majority of current employ- ees in the group---60 percent---expect to keep working in some way beyond retirement age. That's in strong contrast to the majority of current retirees in the survey group---54 percent---who said they went directly into full retirement. A range of readiness According to the survey, self-per- ceived financial readiness for retire- ment varied greatly by country. These differences appeared to be shaped by a range of factors---including what sort of pension system each country has. For example, when respondents were continued from page 3 November 5, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 17 4 visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com continued on page 5
Oct. 29, 2012
Nov. 12, 2012