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NTEU on the 'Fiscal Cliff'

Fiscal Cliff Bill Includes Transit Subsidy Parity

The fiscal cliff bill approved by Congress includes NTEU-supported language reinstating parity between the transit and parking segments of the commuter benefit. The transit benefit, which had fallen substantially behind that for parking, will now match the parking benefit at $240 per month. This new level reinstates transit and parking benefit parity through 2013, and allows for the benefit to be retroactive to January 1, 2012.

subway train
Congress had failed to extend the transit benefit prior to the end of 2011; as a result, the maximum monthly benefit for this portion of the transit subsidy fell to $125 a month for all of 2012. NTEU has been working diligently to restore the parity including providing congressional testimony and writing to every member of Congress highlighting the importance of the mass transit benefit to the many thousands of federal employees who use public transportation to and from work.

Fiscal Cliff Bill Offers Temporary Relief; NTEU to Keep Up Fight

By agreeing to a number of tax-related provisions and delaying the sequester for two months, Congress avoided the full brunt of the fiscal cliff. This provides a little bit of breathing room but there are three pending fiscal deadlines in March that may impact federal employees.

On March 1, barring additional congressional action, the sequester will begin. NTEU will continue our efforts to avoid sequestration and the resulting damaging impact of across-the-board cuts to federal agencies.

The debt ceiling was reached on Dec 31. The Treasury Department is currently using "extraordinary measures" it has used in the past to prevent default, including borrowing from TSP. These "extraordinary measures" are expected to be exhausted and the debt ceiling will need to be raised or we will face default on our debt and potential furloughs or partial government shutdown at the end of February.

On March 27 the continuing resolution expires. If there is no action on appropriations bills there is the potential for a government shutdown for lack of appropriations.

NTEU is closely monitoring all the Capitol Hill activity to be sure that federal employees, who have already contributed $103 billion to debt relief, are not called on again.

"Whether it is helping secure our nation's borders, making sure our food supply is safe, or taking on any of the other many tasks that directly help improve the quality of life for all Americans," NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said. "It is a high priority for NTEU and federal employees that they can continue to do the job our country has asked of them," she added.

"The next few months will require close attention as the debt ceiling limit must be extended and the sequester is set to begin on March 1," President Kelley said. "NTEU will continue to fight to prevent further federal employee pay and benefit cuts as Congress works on pending debt ceiling and sequester issues."

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Get Answers to Key Questions on Sequestration

What is sequestration?
Sequestration is an across-the-board reduction in Federal budgetary resources in all budget accounts that have not been exempted by statute. Under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended by the Budget Control Act of 2011, across-the-board reductions are scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013, unless legislation is enacted that avoids such reductions. If it occurs, this sequestration will reduce each agency's budgetary resources in non-exempt accounts for the remainder of the fiscal year (which runs through September 30, 2013).

Q and A on Fiscal Cliff

What is the difference between a shutdown furlough and an administrative furlough?
An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency that is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. Furloughs that would potentially result from sequestration would generally be considered administrative furloughs. Go to the Guidance for Administrative Furloughs

In contrast, where there is a lapse in appropriations, a "shutdown" furlough may occur. A shutdown furlough is necessary when an agency no longer has the funds necessary to operate and must shut down those activities that are not excepted under the Antideficiency Act. Many Federal employees may be familiar with these types of furlough from instances in previous years in which the Government has faced a potential shutdown. For additional information on shutdown furloughs see OPM's guidance for shutdown furloughs related to potential lapse in appropriations.

How will I know if I am affected by an administrative furlough?
Each agency will determine the method and timing of notifying employees of whether they are affected by an administrative furlough, subject to applicable laws, regulations and collective bargaining agreements. Different notification requirements apply, depending on the length of the furlough, and are established by law. As a general matter, employees would be provided at least 30 days notification for an administrative furlough scheduled for 22 workdays or less, and at least 60 days notification for an administrative furlough scheduled for more than 22 workdays. See Procedures - 22 Workdays or Less and Procedures - More than 22 Workdays (Extended Furlough) on pages 10-18 of OPM's Guidance for Administrative Furloughs. In addition to these requirements, specialized notification procedures may apply to particular agencies, where imposed by other laws.

Who pays for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) of furloughed employees? Will sequestration impact an employee's benefits under FEHB?
Agencies continue to be responsible for the agency contribution of any furloughed employees and each employee remains responsible for his or her employee contribution. If an employee's paycheck is insufficient to cover his/her share, the enrollee share will accumulate and will then be withheld from pay upon return to pay status. Detailed guidance on employee benefits during an administrative furlough is found on page 6 of OPM's Guidance for Administrative Furloughs

The Office of Personnel Management has put out further guidance on sequestration.


NTEU to Keep Up Fight for Sufficient Agency Resources to Serve American People

House Bill Would Result in Significant Federal Pay Cut, Kelley Says

Rep. Van Hollen Underscores Need for Shared Sacrifice At Federal-Postal Coalition Fiscal Cliff News Conference

Coalition Ad Underscores Federal Employee Contributions of $103 Billion

(See the ad)

President Kelley Slams Corker Anti-Federal Worker Proposal

Federal-Postal Congressional Letter Highlights Billions In Employee Sacrifices

Read the letter from the Coalition and a letter on this issue from Washington-area House members.

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Federal agencies bracing for cuts after 'fiscal cliff' deal, Washington Post, Jan. 3, 2013

Federal workers breathe sigh of relief, CNN, Jan. 2, 2013

Fed pay limbo could scare off IT workers,, Jan. 2, 2013

Action to avert fiscal cliff leaves federal employees with uncertainty, Washington Post, Jan. 2, 2013

Pulling back from the cliff: House passes compromise measure, GovExec, Jan. 1, 2013

Unions will be consulted on possible federal furloughs, Kelley says, Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2012

Employees, unions get further details on furloughs, GovExec, Dec. 28, 2012

Our federal employees have sacrificed enough, Buffalo News, Dec. 29, 2012  

Federal Government Prepares For Uncertain Landing After 'Fiscal Cliff', National Public Radio, Dec. 27, 2012

Federal workers should not have to sacrifice more than others, Grand Junction (Colo.) Sentinel, Dec. 24, 2012

Federal Workers Have Sacrificed, Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal, Dec. 22, 2012

Politico AdIn the political publication Politico, the Federal-Postal Coalition, including NTEU, emphasized to members of Congress that federal employees already have contributed $103 billion in pay and benefit cuts toward deficit reduction. See the ad and read about it.


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