There is a chance the federal flexitime program, due to die next Monday, will get a stay of execution so congressional leaders, union brass and the administration can work on a compromise to keep half a million feds on the four-day week or staggered schedules.
A flexitime compromise developed last week by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) flopped. The American Federation of Government Employees objected that it gave management total control over the popular program now set, in many agencies, through negotiations with unions.
A spokesman for the National Treasury Employees Union said his union doesn't like the management control provided in the present Stevens compromise, but would accept it rather than see the flexitime program "go down the drain" next week.
The National Federation of Federal Employees said it, too, supports the Stevens compromise to keep the flexitime program going.
If the three-year flexitime experiment expires, more than 150,000 federal workers who now put in 10-hour days, four days a week would have to return to the eight-hour day, five-day week in April. In addition, many programs that allow workers to set their own hours, or work long and then short days, could be canceled when union contracts expire.
Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) has asked Stevens, the assistant majority leader, to get the Senate to approve a 60-day extension of the flexitime and compressed work hours program, while a compromise is sought. That would allow the House to okay the extension without lengthy hearings. Then the program could continue through the end of May, giving flexitime, four-day-week fans time to reach a new compromise or perhaps get the original Stevens plan through Congress.