Head of largest federal employee union calls for repeal of pension cuts 

Congress should follow repeal of military pension cut with reversal of federal pension hike

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today called on lawmakers to repeal pension increases put in place for new federal employees, following on the successful rollback of pension cuts for military retirees.

"Slashing retirement benefits for military veterans under the guise of fiscal austerity was an error that Congress and the president rightly have corrected. Now it's time to fix another mistake by repealing similar budget cuts targeting newly hired federal employees," Cox said.

In the past two years, Congress has passed two measures as part of deficit reduction efforts that slash take-home pay for federal employees hired after 2012 by increasing their mandatory pension contributions.

Since the mid-1980s, federal employees have paid 0.8% of their salary toward a modest defined benefit pension, 6.2% toward Social Security, and additional contributions toward a 401(k)-type defined contribution plan.

Under the new measures passed by Congress, federal employees who were hired in 2013 now are required to pay 3.1% of their salary into the pension system, while those hired in 2014 and beyond must contribute 4.4% of their salary. This tax increase translates into an annual pay cut of $1,400 for the typical GS-7 employee hired this year, who earns $40,000.

They will receive no new benefits for these additional payments, which will require employees hired in 2014 to pay about 15.6% of their salary for retirement. The retirement system is fully funded, and thus this is pure cost shifting from the employer to the employee.

"Congress has created a second-class and third-class retirement system in which new federal employees earn less than their peers for no other reason than the date they were hired," Cox said.

"This is an outrageous assault on living standards for the next generation of federal employees, and AFGE will not let this stand. By attacking the compensation of these working class Americans, Congress and the administration have joined the worst employers in the private sector in the race to the bottom."

Cox said he is hopeful that a bill will be introduced soon in Congress to roll back these pension increases.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

For the latest AFGE news and information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees 


Feb 7, 2014 13:42 ET

Women's Job Growth Halts in January; Men Have Regained 81 Percent of Jobs Lost in the Recession

WASHINGTONFeb. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — According to an Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the February employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women lost 51,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls in January, while men gained 164,000 for a net increase of 113,000 jobs. As of January, women have more than recovered all their jobs lost in the recession, while men have regained 81 percent (4.9 million) of the jobs they lost.

In January, women's employment growth was weakest in Government (30,000 jobs lost by women) and Professional and Business Services (14,000 jobs lost by women). In what had been a growing sector for women, Education and Health Services saw women's job losses for a second consecutive month (3,000 jobs lost for women in January and 2,000 in December).

"Women's job growth over the last 18 months had buoyed the slow, but steady, growth of the economy," said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. "Men's job gains in January are an encouraging sign of a recovering economy, but both men and women need to see stronger job growth in order to get family incomes growing again."

The February employment report includes annual benchmarking revisions to the payroll data back toJanuary 2009According to these latest estimates, women held more than half of the jobs on payrolls for a ten month period, from the official end of the recession in June 2009 through March 2010. In the last year, from January 2013 to January 2014, of the 2.2 million jobs added to payrolls, 46 percent were filled by women (1,038,000 jobs), and 54 percent were filled by men (1,200,000 jobs).

Among single mothers, the unemployment rate increased from 8.7 percent in December to 9.1 percent in January, indicating continued difficulty for these women in finding jobs. There has been no improvement over the past year in the average number of weeks spent unemployed and looking for work, which was 35.4 weeks in both January 2013 and January 2014.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.

SOURCE Institute for Women's Policy Research


Jan 23, 2014 14:55 ET

Leading National and Regional Brands Meet with U.S. Secretary of Labor on Increasing the Minimum Wage

Strong Business Support For Minimum Wage Hike in Advance of State of the Union

WASHINGTONJan. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Business owners from across the country and a wide spectrum of industries met today with US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to discuss the need for an increased minimum wage. Business leaders from  EILEEN FISHER, New Belgium Brewing (CO), Zingerman's (MI), Ace Hardware stores (DC and MD), InterMedia Partners (NY) and 16 other companies and business organizations participated in the roundtable. The President has signaled that he will feature his support for increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address on January 28, and business leaders say it's time for Congress to act.

"We've grown since opening Zingerman's Delicatessen almost 32 years ago to eight businesses in Ann Arbor employing 625 permanent staff with revenues just under $50 million dollars," said co-owner Paul Saginaw. "Paying entry wages our employees can live on has contributed to our profitability and our annual compounded growth rate of 10 percent. Raising the minimum wage is long overdue."

"It's not just workers who support an increase in the minimum wage," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "What I heard from these men and women who run small businesses is that when you put more money in workers' pockets, they stay on the job longer which reduces turnover and training costs. Additionally, those workers spend that extra income at local businesses in their communities which benefits the overall economy. It's really that simple."

Gina Schaefer, co-owner of nine Ace Hardware stores in Washington, DC and Maryland, said, "We have nearly 200 employees and our starting wage for sales associates is $10 an hour. That helps us attract and retain employees who deliver the great service that draws large numbers of customers to our stores and enables us to stay competitive. Increasing the minimum wage will help promote a healthy, dedicated workforce and keep more dollars circulating in our local economy."

"Today's minimum wage is the same as 1950, adjusted for inflation," said  Holly Sklar, Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which organized business participation in the meeting. "If lower wages were the solution, our economy would be thriving. In reality, we need to raise the abysmal minimum wage to revitalize our economy."

The business leaders attending the Roundtable want Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA) and Rep. George Miller (CA), which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage in three steps to $10.10 and then provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments. They and hundreds of other business owners and executives across the country are signing an open petition, which can be found at: 

David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which with its member organizations represents more than 200,000 businesses across the country, said, "The business case and the economic case for an increase in the minimum wage are very sound, and we see strong support continuing to build within the business community. Congress needs to give the economy a much-needed boost by giving our lowest-paid workers a raise."

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. www.businessforafairminimumwage.org

SOURCE Business for a Fair Minimum Wage

Web Site: http://www.businessforafairminimumwage.org


Dec 31, 2013 15:41 ET

Military Pay Changes for 2014

Changes taking place will increase troop pay and impact allowances in some areas

MCLEAN, Va.Dec. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Military.com released their 2014 pay charts and updated allowance information today, giving servicemembers the ability to accurately predict what their pay, cost of living increase and housing allowances will be in the coming year.

"Military pay can be confusing to calculate. Pay is augmented by certain allowances for housing, regional cost of living adjustments, and special duties (such as deployment or hostile duty bonuses)," said Terry Howell, Director of Strategic Alliances and Outreach for Military.com and author of The Military Advantage, an annually updated guide to military and veteran benefits.

The Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law last week, takes effect December 31 st and gives military members a 1 percent increase in base pay. That figure is down from a 1.7 percent increase last year. The change means the average enlisted member will receive a monthly pay increase of $26instead of $47, according to Pentagon budget documents.

Cost of living (COLA) adjustments have also changed in some areas of the country. According to the Department of Defense, some areas will see increases while other areas will lose COLA entirely.  Some areas in California and the Midwest were taken off the list. On the flip side, servicemembers in some areas like Yakima and Hartford will find a nice boost in their 2014 pay checks starting in January, as those locations were added to the 2014 list. Unlike Basic Allowance for Housing, there is no provision in the law for rate protection for COLA. This means that if a location sees a drop in COLA, servicemembers will see the reduction reflected in their military paycheck.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is another element of military pay based on geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. The intent of BAH is to provide uniformed servicemembers accurate and equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets, and is payable when government quarters are not provided. The military BAH rate is also used to determine the monthly housing stipend for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Military members can determine their pay for 2014 by using the Military.com Pay Calculator.

About Military.com

Military.com is the nation's largest military and veteran online news and membership organization serving active duty personnel, reservists, guard members, retirees, veterans, family members, defense workers and those considering military careers. Military.com enables Americans with military affinity to access their benefits, advance their careers, enjoy military discounts, and stay connected for life. Military.com is a business unit of Monster Worldwide Inc. More information is available at www.military.com.

SOURCE Military.com