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Senate Should Support Akaka Amendment Correcting Flawed FECA Proposals in Postal Reform Bill, NTEU Leader Says

Wednesday, April 18 2012

Washington, D.C. — National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Colleen M. Kelley today called on senators to support an amendment proposed by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) to the Postal Reform bill that would make positive changes to the federal workers' compensation program rather than harmful benefits cuts.

The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) provides benefits to workers injured while serving the American people.

In a letter to every member of the Senate, President Kelley offered NTEU’s strong support of the amendment to replace the current language cutting benefits with bi-partisan FECA reform legislation that already has passed the House (H.R. 2465). The Postal Reform bill (S.1789) is currently under debate in the Senate.

“Workers’ compensation is critical to federal employees hurt on the job while in service to their nation,” said Kelley. “It is unacceptable to cut their benefits when more sensible measures are not being implemented.”

The Akaka amendment would update the benefits for funeral expenses and facial disfigurement for the first time since 1949, while also ensuring that injuries caused by acts of terrorism are covered.

Additionally, the amendment would expand the pool of medical providers to include advanced practice nurses and physician assistants and provide some additional time for those who are injured overseas in a “zone of armed conflict” to file for benefits.

“The Akaka amendment corrects a controversial and harmful proposal in the Postal Reform bill to cut insurance benefits for workers injured while on the job who are older or who have family obligations,” Kelley wrote.

The existing FECA provision in the Postal Reform bill would penalize workers who have lost their ability to earn a salary and retirement credits by slashing their benefit later in life, while also eliminating a modestly-larger benefit for a recipient with dependents.

President Kelley wrote: “These benefit cuts would impose a substantial and unfair income reduction for federal employees who simply came to work one day ready to serve their country, but tragically suffered an injury that took away their ability to ever work again.”

NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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