Web News Article #: 125-2015
06/16/2015 – In a June 15 letter, the presidents of the four postal unions asked the Department of Labor (DOL) and the White House to withdraw a proposal that would reduce compensation benefits to injured workers and urged the administration instead to work with federal employee unions and their allies in Congress to “fashion sensible reform” of the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA).
Referring to a May 20 hearing before a House Subcommittee, the union presidents wrote to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, “It became clear during the hearing that your department’s proposals to reduce workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers with dependents, and reduce benefits again at retirement age, are not based on solid evidence that benefits are excessive. Rather they seem to be based on comparisons to state workers’ compensation programs that have been systematically gutted over the past two decades.”
Testifying at the hearing were: Director of the DOL’s Office of Workers Compensation Programs Leonard Howie III, an official of the General Accountability Office (GAO), and National Association of Letter Carriers’ Director of Retired Members Ron Watson, an expert on FECA. APWU Human Relations Director Sue Carney also submitted testimony.
“The GAO witness at the hearing confirmed that its own studies show that the proposed cut in FECA benefits at retirement age would result in 22-35% less income for an injured worker than a typical FERS retiree,” the union presidents wrote. “Frankly, the DOL’s weak defense of its proposals at the hearing was embarrassing.”
The union presidents urged the DOL to withdraw support for the FECA changes outlined in the president’s 2016 budget. “They were developed during the Bush administration and have been repeatedly shown to be misguided,” they wrote. “Please work with the unions and with allies in the Congress to fashion FECA reform that is both evidence-based and fair to injured workers.”
The letter was signed by National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando, National Postal Mail Handlers Union President Paul Hogrogian, National Rural Letter Carriers Association Jeanette Dwyer and APWU President Mark Dimondstein.