4 more years, but not like the last 4, OK?

Thursday - 11/8/2012, 2:00am EST

President Barack Obama's impressive re-election victory delighted federal and postal union leaders who — along with their staffs and rank-and-file volunteers — worked long and hard in the campaign. They made special efforts in swing states, like Virginia and Colorado, most of which paid off.

Although there is no way to assess the impact of the huge federal family vote, the large number of government worker and retiree voters in key states could have tipped the balance in close elections. Federal union leaders hope to make that point with White House advisers who handle federal and postal worker issues.

  • William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said Nov. 6 was a "momentous victory for federal employees."

  • J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called it a "victory for the nation and for all working class people."

  • Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said many individual members and chapters worked hard in swing states like Virginia, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin to make the victory possible.

  • The American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers both supported the President's re- election bid. The lead item on the APWU's member homepage yesterday was more practical than political. It reminded postal employees that they will be getting a modest contractual pay raise later this month. That's a rare bit of good news for the rapidly shrinking USPS workforce, where workers in many crafts are being lured into early retirement with buyout offers.
Having helped the Obama team to victory, the union leaders must be hoping that the next four years will be better for their members than the last four, which included a two-year pay freeze proposed by the President and happily OK'd by Congress. In the most recent political deal (a temporary continuing resolution), federal pay has again been frozen through March 31. The White House proposed a 0.5 percent increase effective in January, but agreed to the CR to keep government running. It was necessary because Congress, again, failed to approve budgets for the fiscal year that began last October. The temporary stopgap measure was approved to give the new Congress time — three months — to do what it couldn't manage in last nine months of this year.

An early acid test for federal unions will be how firmly the White House backs their demand that the 2013 raise, which may or may not kick in April, be made retroactive to January 2013. At 0.5 percent, that wouldn't buy much, but coming in a lump sum — especially after health premiums have jumped up — it would be considerably better than another year without a pay raise.

Medicare and the FEHBP

Should federal and postal retirees with FEHBP plans buy Medicare Part B? The short answer is yes, and no. It depends! On yesterday's Your Turn radio show, David Snell of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees tackled that oft-asked question of how much health insurance do you need? To listen to the show, click here.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

In his first incarnation in a 1942 short, Looney Tunes character Tweety was actually pink. He was also named Orson.

(Source: Mental Floss)


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