Washington, D.C.—The head of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today called on the Senate to support a leadership request for unanimous consent so legislation could be considered that would extend the employer-provided mass transit benefit through 2014.
Without legislation, the mass transit portion of the commuter benefit for federal employees would drop to $130 per month from $245 per month. Tens of thousands of federal employees use mass transit to and from work every day.
In a letter to every senator, NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley supported a request from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for unanimous consent to consider S. 1859, the Tax Extenders Act of 2013. It includes NTEU-supported language on the mass transit subsidy.
Speaking about impacted federal workers, President Kelley wrote that “many of these employees, already subject to a three-year pay freeze, unpaid furlough days and higher retirement contributions, are struggling in the current economic climate, and a reduction in these benefits would impose an additional financial burden on them.”
She noted that Congress earlier this year restored the mass transit commuter benefit to the same level as the benefit for parking—$245 per month. However, she added, because the increase in the transit portion of the commuter benefit was only temporary, it will be reduced to $130 per month on Jan. 1, 2014.
Meanwhile, due to an automatic cost of living increase, the monthly limit for the parking portion of the commuter benefit is set to rise five dollars, to $250 per month, for 2014. “This would further exacerbate the disparity between the transit and parking benefits,” she wrote.
The NTEU strongly encouraged the Senate to immediately consider and approve S. 1859, which, she said, “would ensure that many working people who rely on mass transit to get to and from work are provided much-needed relief in their commuting costs.”
NTEU is the nation’s largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.