In the biggest early-out offer of the year, the Office of Personnel Management has given the Army Material Command permission to allow early retirement for thousands of senior employees between now and mid-October.
The early-outs cover many Material Command workers in 33 locations. They include workers at the Alexandria headquarters as well as many civilians in Philadelphia; New Cumberland, Tobyhanna and Chambersburg, Pa.; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; and Radford, Va.
Before this week's early-out offer to the command, only about a dozen other early-outs (mostly to Defense Department units) had been approved this year by OPM. Of the 2,800 workers who were offered the chance to retire early from January through June, about 100 accepted.
Under terms of the early-outs, eligible employees can leave on immediate pensions at any age with 25 years of service, or at age 50 with 20 years of service. Normally, the earliest government workers can retire on immediate benefits is at age 55 with 30 years' service.
Officials say that of the nearly 1,600 civilians at the command's headquarters in Alexandria, 218 are eligible for early retirement but only about 30 are expected to take it. Because of money problems, the command expects it will have to fire 115 workers and demote 194.
In some areas, OPM will not allow employees in certain grades or job categories to take early retirement. Also, temporary employees in the same occupational series as regular workers being offered early-outs must be fired first.
H.T. Steve Morrissey, president of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, says his successor should get a pay raise.
Morrissey, who isn't running for reelection of the 500,000- member retiree group, said his salary is 36 percent less than the average salary of federal and postal union leaders. NARFE vice presidents get 43 percent less than their federal-postal union counterparts in organizations with much smaller memberships.
NARFE has more dues- paying members than all of the white- and blue-collar federal unions combined, and more than the membership totals of the postal unions. NARFE's president is paid $54,882 annually, while annual pay for federal-postal union presidents ranges from $56,000 to more than $100,000, with eight presidents paid $85,000 or more.
NARFE's executive board is in town this week for a series of legislative conferences and business meetings. However, the pay issue will be decided by delegates at the retiree group's convention later this year in Louisville.
Money in the G-Fund (treasury securities) option of the federal thrift savings fund will be invested at 8.5 percent this month, down from 8.75 percent last month. Most of the federal and postal workers who are participating in the tax-deferred savings plan have their money in the G-Fund, although many workers are switching to the higher risk stock and bond market options.