As early as Thursday morning (February 16), the House will consider H.R. 3813, the Securing Annuities of Federal Employees (SAFE) Act of 2012. However, if the SAFE Act as introduced by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) became law, it would be anything but “safe” for federal workers—including postal workers. In fact, it would put your retirement security at serious risk.
H.R. 3813 had been rolled into the transportation bill known as H.R. 7, but it was announced today that since H.R. 7 did not appear to have enough votes to pass, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was allowing H.R. 3813 to come to the House floor for a vote on its own as stand-alone legislation.
Instead of “securing” them, Ross’ H.R. 3813 seeks to deeply cut the annuities of those who retire after 2012 even as it would increase the cost to employees for such benefits, dramatically so for new hires—effectively cutting the take-home pay of all federal and postal employees.
The bill would increase current employees’ contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) by 1.5 percent over three years. Ross claims his measure is necessary to help reduce the federal deficit, but the real agenda appears to be to attack public employees. A fair deficit reduction bill would not focus solely on the benefits of hard-working public servants, and a real deficit reduction bill would balance broadly applied spending cuts with progressive tax reforms.
In addition, for FERS employees who retire after 2012, H.R. 3813 would eliminate the Social Security Supplement for anyone retiring before they are eligible for Social Security benefits. It would reduce the multiplier from 1.1 percent to 1 percent for anyone who retires at age 62 or after, cutting benefits between 9 percent and 10 percent from the current formula. New employees hired after 2012 would pay 4 percent of salary into FERS, would be compensated on their highest five years of earnings instead of their highest three, and they would be calculated with a 0.7 percent multiplier instead of the 1 percent that is currently used.
As you know, FERS provides a modest defined-benefit pension that makes up about 40 percent of a federal worker’s total annuity, a crucial supplement to Social Security benefits and the Thrift Savings Plan. This “three-legged stool” strategy is a sensible approach to retirement security that helps the government recruit and retain excellent employees.
The Ross bill is not just an attack on federal/postal employees and their pensions—it’s an attack on the entire middle class.
Click here to find your representative’s phone number here in Washington, and then call him or her right now and say that you’re tired of Congress thinking that it can use federal employees’ benefits as a convenient piggy bank to pay down the national debt, to pay for highway and transit improvements, to pay for a payroll tax extension, or to use our hard-earned money for anything other than to pay for the retirement benefits we deserve.
Tell your representative to stand up to this latest attack on the middle class and to vote against H.R. 3813.
Fredric V. Rolando, President
National Association of Letter Carriers