The government will release soon yet another survey showing that most federal workers are happy and wouldn't think of working elsewhere.
Whoever made the survey should man our phones for about a week!
This week was a mixed bag -- mostly complaints from federal workers and retirees unhappy with insurance plans, pay plans and pension plans, with some good reason.
But perhaps one-third of the calls were from folks asking when is the earliest they can bail out. Some were curious, some frantic, some downright angry.
Their light at the end of the tunnel may be a two-year-old plan by Sen. William Roth (R-Del.). It would let the government slim down without firing its youngest, least senior employes, he said. Under his bill, employes would have a 90-day window during which they could retire early: At any age after 25 years of federal employment, at age 50 with 20 years' service, at age 55 after 15 years or at age 57 after five years. Even with a 2 percent reduction in benefits for each year a retiree fell short of age 55, many say they would jump at the chance.
The bad news for the would-be plug-pullers is that there is no news. The Senate's Democratic leadership says there will be early-out hearings, but doesn't say in what year. The House leadership hasn't even committed to a decade for its hearings.
One of the primary reasons some politicians oppose the early-out plan is a fear that it would produce a stampede of the best and brightest. However, if the government's everybody's-happy survey is correct, that hardly seems likely. If it isn't accurate, maybe somebody should find out why so many people are calling so often to find out when they can retire.On The Mend
American Postal Workers Union legislative director Patrick J. Nilan is recovering at Georgetown University Hospital from hip surgery. Nilan, the dean of the federal-postal lobbying community, claims to have worn out various vital parts working the halls of Congress on behalf of his members. Get well, Pat! Health Plan Advice
Civil servants and retirees have until Dec. 11 to pick their 1988 health plan. Some plans are cutting premiums; some are raising them as much as 50 percent. The average increase next year is 31 percent.
Washington area federal workers can choose from among 20 to 25 plans. Picking the right plan can save a worker $1,500 or more next year in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Experts say there is no such thing as a best plan. The best plan for a worker may depend on his age, health, family status and income. But good advice is available to help workers make a decision: Tomorrow on WTOP radio (1500 AM), Jamie McIntyre will begin a weeklong series with health plan information for federal workers, retirees and D.C. government employes. His reports will run through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m.
Tuesday this column will begin a series on the health plan options facing federal workers and retirees. The columns will list recommended best buys for various workers, including singles, retirees, people expecting heavy medical bills and those seeking dental coverage.