On May 4, the new Director of the Office of Personnel Management sent legislative proposals to Congress to cut Federal employee retirement benefits by $144 billion over ten years. POPA is a member of the Federal Workers Alliance and the Federal-Postal Coalition and has been working through these groups to block those proposals.
The cuts that the Administration has proposed include:
- basing annuity calculation on the average of the employee’s highest five salary years instead of an employee’s “high-three.”
- Increasing FERS federal employee pension contributions to 7.25%
- reducing the cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs under CSRS) by one half of one percent and to eliminate COLAs under FERS for current and future retirees.
When it learned that the Administration sought to quickly insert these cuts into the National Defense Appropriations Act being “marked-up” by the House Armed Services Committee on May 9, POPA, along with the other Federal employee unions that are members of the Federal Workers Alliance, sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee urging that it not include these government-wide changes in this year’s Defense authorization act. These proposals were not included in the draft bill approved by the Committee, but critics of the Federal workforce in the House may seek to offer an amendment to the act when it is considered on the House floor in the coming weeks. Even if they are unsuccessful, it is clear that the Administration will continue to attempt to seek these changes in other legislation this year and next. Fortunately, these reductions in Federal employee retirement benefits are strongly opposed by a number of Republicans who have a lot of Federal employees in their district.
POPA earlier signed a similar letter organized by the Federal-Postal Coalition that was sent to the House and Senate Budget Committees. The Coalition is an organization of over 20 Federal employee and Postal unions, Federal manager associations, and the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees. Both the Coalition and the Alliance meet monthly and POPA is actively engaged in their activities.
POPA continues to lobby Congress directly on issues of unique or particular concern to USPTO employees, such as telework extension and time and attendance controversies. On April 10, POPA President Pam Schwartz and POPA’s legislative counsel Richard Hirn met privately with the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, and discussed the unjust disciplinary actions being taken against PTO teleworkers.