Federal employe unions and some politicians are between a rock and a hard place trying to find their position on the early retirement bill proposed by Sens. William V. Roth (R-Del.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The measure would allow thousands of workers -- who are not eligible under current rules -- to retire between July and December by lowering age and service requirements.
Most unions, and some Democratic members of Congress, oppose the Roth-Stevens bill. They say it is an administration stalking horse, designed to push people out and bar agencies from replacing them. This, they say, would allow the administration to further reduce the civilian federal work force and the services it provides.
In recent weeks, 181 persons have written the Monday Morning Quarterback about the early retirement bill. Only four opposed it. Some comments:
*"It has been mentioned that the Democrats are suspicious of the . . . Roth-Stevens bill. Well they might be suspicious of such a generous bill originating from senators with such close ties to the administration.
"The bill must be considered in context of the well-known administration position on the federal retirement system: that is, ditch it in favor of one having less cost. In line with that policy, they can use the present retirement system as a dumping ground for anyone wanting to retire and yet incur no additional cost to the government.
"When a new retirement system is set up there will be no contributions to the old system from new hires. The money to keep the old system solvent must come from present employees, with matching funds from the government; fewer present employees, lesser matching funds. When the retirement fund runs dry from no more contributions, leave it to the Democrats to find the money." R.R., Upper Marlboro
*"Some members of Congress apparently don't believe that federal workers want the opportunity to take the early out as proposed in the Roth-Stevens bill. This leads me to believe that the federal worker has not been properly represented to Congress.
"Reductions in force have caused disruption of careers, displacement of staff, low morale and decreased efficiency. Many workers will not be able to rebuild their careers. At age 55 or 60 with 15 years in government there is not sufficient time to develop the skills in high-technology systems and to regain their former positions. Some would leave if allowed to do so.
Employees who were 'bumped' into [lower] jobs they didn't desire by earlier rifs are in danger of being moved again. This is extremely stressful. The early retirement bill offers a chance to take control of one's life and future. Please help us unite Democrats and Republicans in quick passage of this bill." H.N., Brookhaven, Pa.
*"Count me as one of the cynical ones. The Roth-Stevens early retirement bill, for which I would qualify, sounds too good to be true! Maybe because it is too good to be true! Why, after all these years of kicking civil servants around, is the Congress suddenly becoming so generous?" R.J., Alexandria
*"So . . . the union that I have belonged to for 18 years doesn't like the early retirement bill because it comes from two Republican senators! Would it be a better bill if the authors had been Massachusetts or California Democrats? Well, my union may think so, but frankly my dear, I don't give a darn . . . . It would be a godsend to me and thousands of others. I haven't met a single worker who opposes the bill. So who is my union speaking for?" G.C., Lexington Park