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Federal Employees News Digest : Oct 7, 2013
October 7, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 12 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com permitting the shutdown to occur. "It is simply unconscionable to use federal employees as pawns in an ideo- logical fight, with its resulting harm to the public," NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement issued with the midnight deadline to pass a continuing resolution only hours away. "This is a workforce which has endured three years of a pay freeze. There has been virtually no hiring, so workloads are increasing dramatically; many already have faced unpaid days because of sequestration; and now they face more unpaid fur- loughs because of a shutdown that does not need to happen." "This brinksmanship has got to stop," Kelley said. "The seriousness of refusing to fund the government seems to elude the members of the House who maneu- vered us into this lockout," J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement. "It's anybody's guess what their real goals may be: Do they enjoy creating chaos? Do they enjoy inflicting additional hardship on the working- and middle-class employees who provide services to the American public?" First efforts On Oct. 1, in the face of unfavorable publicity over the shutdown, the House majority offered a handful of stopgap spending bills to keep certain federal entities afloat, proposing funding for national memorials, the Park Service and other high-profile organizations. Those piecemeal legislative offerings, however, were rejected by Democrats. While versions of those measures were reintroduced on Oct. 2., passage did not look promising as of press time. "If Congress---if the House major- ity---actually wanted to fund the gov- ernment, they should have worked in a good faith manner to pass the 12 appropriations bills," IFPTE's Biggs told FEND. "Now, you're trying to move all these different pieces of the appropria- 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 tions process quickly after Oct. 1? It's too late for that." "To many of us, it looks like the key date is Oct. 17, when the federal debt limit must be raised," Biggs added. Biggs said that many observers expect all of the current issues---funding for the ACA, funding for the government, raising the debt ceiling and the seques- ter issue---to get into the mix for a larger deal and resolution in the weeks ahead. "We are getting prepared for a long, draw-out shutdown," NFFE's Dougan agreed. "We sincerely hope that Congress can get its act together and pass a bill to fund the government, but for now we are bracing for a prolonged lockout. It is feasible that this lockout could last a couple weeks or more." "Right now federal employees are hurting," Dougan said. "We need mem- bers of Congress to see the pain they are causing people by playing their political games. That is our main focus right now." OPM posts new FEHBP rates Federal employees will be paying on average about 4 percent more for their health insurance coverage in the next plan year, according to the Office of Personnel Management. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program plans to increase premiums by 3.7 per- cent in 2014, OPM said. On average, self-only premiums will increase $3.28 for each biweekly pay period and premiums for family cover- age will rise $7.90 for each pay period. Fee-for-service plans will rise 3.1 per- cent, while health maintenance orga- nization premiums will jump about 6.5 percent. The average premium increase for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program will be under 1 percent for dental coverage, OPM said. Average premiums for vision benefits will decrease by 1.3 percent. "[The] announcement that FEHBP premiums will increase an average of 4.4 percent next year for enrollees is unacceptable," American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox said in a statement. "Federal employees have had their pay frozen for an unprecedented three consecutive years, and more than a million employ- ees lost a week or more of their wages this year when they were furloughed under sequestration." OPM estimated a slightly lower aver- age increase overall---and framed the issue to convey that holding the boost to around 4 percent was an achieve- ment. "For the third year in a row, OPM has kept the average premium increases for the FEHB Program under 4 percent, continuing our commitment to provide federal employees, annuitants and their families with the best possible coverage options," said outgoing OPM Acting Director Elaine Kaplan. "The FEHB Program delivers competitive rates and benefits through an efficiently run pro- gram to attract and retain top-talent in the federal service." Details of the planned premium changes can be found at: www.opm.gov/ healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan- information/premiums/#url=Premiums. USPS on-the-job injury rate steady A new Government Accountability Office report examined job-related inju- ries among U.S. Postal Service workers, who make up a large share of Federal Employees' Compensation Act benefi- ciaries. A large proportion of FECA ben-
Sep 30, 2013
Oct 14, 2013