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Federal Employees News Digest : Jan. 21, 2013
people, and securing American skies is defi- nitely one of them." Cox said the union has been working for a year to get the vote turned around. To see more, go to: http://afge.org/Index. cfm?Page=PressReleases&PressRelease ID=1421. oPM says claims down in December The Office of Personnel Management this month said it received fewer new appli- cations for retirement in December than for any month last year. According to its monthly update on its progress on cutting its retirement claims backlog, OPM in December received only 5,152 new retirement claims from employees retiring under the Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System. OPM had predicted it would receive 7,000 new claims in December. Applications in November also fell below projections. While OPM processed fewer claims in December than it had projected---10,545 actual claims processed versus the 11,500 it had predicted---it still reduced its inventory of standing claims by about 5,300, whittling the backlog from 31,704 claims to 26,402 at the end of December. At the same time, OPM projects it will receive 21,000 new claims this month. At the end of January 2012, the number of backlogged claims stood at 61,108. To see the report, go to: www. opm.gov/StrategicPlan/pdf/ RetirementProcessingStatus.pdf. new contract for nalC The National Association of Letter Carriers announced that arbitrators have issued a final, binding award that establishes the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement between the union and the U.S. Postal Service. NALC and USPS have been attempting to reach an agreement since the prior contract expired in late 2011. The new pact covers the period Nov. 20, 2011, to May 20, 2016. "Although we would have preferred to reach a negotiated settlement in November 2011," NALC President Fredric Rolando said in a Jan. 11 announcement, "the process worked as intended to resolve all outstand- ing issues and to address both sides' key concerns while laying the groundwork for a productively innovative Postal Service in the years to come." NALC said the arbitration panel rejected USPS proposals to freeze pay, eliminate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and implement a two-tier wage schedule for career city carriers. "Instead, the new contract provides three general wage increases between now and the end of the contract: 1 percent in November 2013, 1.5 percent in November 2014, and 1 percent in November 2015." said the state- ment. "It also provides for the payment of seven COLAs between now and 2016, though the two COLAs calculated in 2013 will be deferred and paid in 2014." NALC said the wage and COLA provi- sions are in line with "the wage pattern established by the negotiated American Postal Workers Union contract and the arbitrated National Rural Letter Carriers Association contract." It was not all gains for the union. One provision in the agreement reduced the entry wage for new career letter carriers appointed on or after Jan. 12, 2013. To see more on the new agreement, go to: www.nalc.org/news/bargain/index.html. Panetta orders furlough planning As Congress continued to work to find a way to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this month ordered the immediate implementation of "prudent measures" to prepare for the risk of deep funding cuts. "This includes a plan to implement potential unpaid furloughs for our civil- ian personnel if sequestration is triggered," Panetta said at a Jan. 10 press briefing. "This action is strictly precautionary," he added. "I want to make that clear: It's pre- cautionary. But I have an obligation to---to let Congress know that we may have to do that, and I very much hope that we will not have to furlough anyone. But we've got to be prepared to do that if we face this situation." Other measures Panetta listed include a civilian hiring freeze, a curtailment of facility maintenance for non-mission-criti- cal activities, and delaying certain contract awards. Panetta said he has stressed that these actions must be "reversible to the extent feasible," but that the department must prepare for the worst. The secretary said he also has asked DOD components for detailed plans on how they would implement a sequester if it becomes necessary---especially in light of the shrink- ing window to implement sequestration in this fiscal year. "I mean, we're almost halfway through the fiscal year," he said. Panetta called the current situation "a perfect storm of budget uncertainty." In addition to the March 1 sequestration threat, he said, Congress could simply pass a continuing resolution to cover the rest of the fiscal year rather than adopt a defense appropriations bill. Moreover, he said, a debt ceiling crisis could complicate the fiscal climate even further. "And the fact is," he said, "looking at all three of those, we have no idea what the hell's going to happen." Scholarship applications available The Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund last week announced that applications its 2013-2014 scholarships are now available. The nonprofit FEEA, which is funded largely by federal employee contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign, said it awards about a half-million dollars in scholarships each year in amounts ranging from $500 to $2,500. The group also awards $5,000 each for up to seven students via a joint program with the National Treasury Employees Union. Civilian federal and postal employees with at least three years of service and their dependents are eligible to apply. Dependent applicants must be full-time students in an accredited degree program, and must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Employee applicants must meet the same qualifica- tions, but may be part-time students. FEEA said it awarded scholarships to more than 400 students last year, including 32 civilian federal employees. To get an application, go to: www. feea.org/component/content/article/272- scholarship/497-2010-11apps. January 21, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 25 5 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com continued from page 4
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Jan. 28, 2013