By: Reg Jones
It’s December 13th. Near the end of a calendar year, only a couple of weeks away from the end of the leave year, and a month plus from the end of this session of Congress. So far only a few things have happened legislatively that would affect federal employees and retirees despite many proposals from the White House and Congress to curb benefits in various ways (e.g. raising retirement contributions, reducing annuities and COLAs, shifting more FEHB premium costs to enrollees, etc.). For most of us, this “lack of accomplishment” is good news.
So what are employees and retirees to do to keep their benefits in tact? My opinion is they should support organizations that represent federal employees that are working to protect their benefits. Among others, I’m talking about union, trade and professional groups. For example, those that represent federal employees in numerous agencies, such as the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), and National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). Or more specialized ones, such as the Association of Civilian Technicians (ACT), National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), or National Weather Service Employees (NWSEO).
And there are postal employee unions and professional groups, such as the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), National Association of Postal Supervisors of the United States (NAPUS), National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA).
There are many such organizations – too many for a comprehensive list – that represent segments of the employee community. These include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), American Nurses Association (ANA), American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), Blacks in Government (BIG), FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), Federal Bar Association (FBA), Federal Managers Association (FMA), Federally Employed Women ( FEW), the International Associations of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the International Brotherhood(s) of Boiler Makers (IBB), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Teamsters (IBT).
Then there is one organization that has for decades has protected and even enhanced the rights of federal retirees, and now active federal employees as well: the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE).
While all of these organizations do their best to represent you and your interests, don’t sit back and assume that no effort is needed on your part. If a benefit is important to you, make sure you let your members of the House and Senate know. While phone calls and emails are good, letters are even better. And personal letters are more effective than the canned form letters provided by your representational group. You do have a right to be heard, so speak up.