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Federal Employees News Digest : July 15, 2013
July 15, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 50 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com ask them for a response, and use that to help add pressure in our lobbying cam- paign on the Hill." "So, we use this system on the front- end in our grassroots efforts to inundate these congressional offices where there are large numbers of DOD employees, so they can hear from constituents impact- ed in their district," Walsh continued. "But, also on the back end, we can use this as a powerful tool to inform us and members, as part of our overall legisla- tive efforts and efforts during the recess, so we can show hard numbers and make sure they're not overlooked, and high- light this for the members." "Unfortunately we did not have as much sophisticated data in the past," Walsh said. "Now, we have a system that gives data back to us, as much as it also generates useful letters." The group uses Salsa management software, she noted. "As for the Hill, we haven't seen any- thing yet," NFFE's Dougan told FEND on July 8. "But they're just getting back to town this week, and it's going to take them a day or two, at least, for them to look at all our letters and other commu- nications from us, and we expect we'll start hearing something back." Next steps "We don't have any overall [large-scale] plans for informational picketing on this right now, but we have already seen some of that from some of the labor organiza- tions at some agencies," Dougan told FEND. "But within our union, at some locations---a couple of DOD depots and arsenals---there has been some picket- ing and informational signs put out by members, along the roads nearby. These actions help make the public aware of our concerns and how this might impact military readiness and security." Dougan explained that part of the plan is to pressure Congress to provide legal flexibility to "move some money around" to enable management to reduce or avoid furlough days by reallocating funding priorities---in short, "applying money to salaries to reduce the number of fur- lough days DOD is now facing." Right now, DOD lacks that authority, accord- ing to many experts and union officials. Bigger worry: Next year "At DOD, they've already said that if sequestration continues next year, which looks like will amount to another $10 billion over this year---or about $50 to $60 billion---there is no way in hell that you can 'find' that kind of money in your existing budget," Dougan said. "We are looking at RIFs, for sure." Dougan also warned of diminished national security and readiness. "How can we get our civilian workforce, under these circumstances, to really keep up with the need for weapons, munitions and other supplies? Well, we're not going to be able to---and we're putting our readiness at risk, I believe, if we continue down this insane path of sequestration." But, to head off or reduce this year's furloughs, Dougan and other union lead- ers note the key problem is not really a lack of money. It's a lack of spending flex- ibility, enforced by the current across-the- board cuts in the sequester law. "Congress could also just pass an indi- vidual bill to allow DOD to move some money around---and that still could, or could not, happen," Dougan noted. "The real problem is that Congress doesn't seem to be able to do much of anything. They passed a grand total of 15 bills this year---and it really is a do-nothing Congress. Every day that goes on like this, my---and my membership's---confi- dence in Congress just shrinks." "Every day these furloughs are allowed to continue, we are subverting our nation's economic recovery by taking the legs out from under small communities across the country," Dougan also noted in a statement. "This is an infinitely preventable problem and thousands of dedicated federal workers are calling for a solution. Something can be done to stop it, and it must. We must put an end to these furloughs." See the link to coalition letter at: http:// afl.salsalabs.com/o/5906/p/dia/action3/ common/public/?action_KEY=6763. See more on the FWA campaign at: www. federalworkers.org. FEHB open to all married same-sex couples The Office of Personnel Management issued a letter specifying that that spou- sal Federal Employee Health Benefits coverage will be available to legally mar- ried same-sex couples whether or not they reside in the state in which they were legally married. "Benefits coverage is now available to a legally married same-sex spouse of a federal employee or annuitant, regardless of the employee's or annuitant's state of residency," said a benefits administration letter (BAL) issued July 3---several days after the Supreme Court voided a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. OPM also issued letters to FEHB car- riers and Federal Vision and Dental Insurance Program carriers detailing the changes. According to the letters, new enroll- ments for benefits will follow procedures similar to those for other changes in life status; in this case, employees will apply as though they had entered a new mar- riage. "Because existing same-sex marriages were not recognized by the federal gov- ernment before this Supreme Court deci- sion, all legal same-sex marriages that predate the decision are being treated as new marriages; enrollees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 (i.e., until August 26, 2013) for enrollment actions," the BAL stated. "Legal same-sex mar- riages entered into following this deci- sion will be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex marriages, regardless of an employee's or annuitant's state of resi- dency." The letter also points out that the Supreme Court's decision specifically addressed the constitutionality of a fed- eral statute that defined "marriage" and "spouse"---a distinction that now limits continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4
July 8, 2013
July 22, 2013