Federal workers who were furloughed over the long Columbus Day holiday weekend -- including about 25,000 here -- will be paid.
The budget reconciliation bill approved by Congress last weekend reinstates pay for employees who were scheduled to work Oct. 6, 7 and 8, but who were sent home or told not to come to work because the budget hadn't been approved.
All three days were regular days off (a weekend and a federal holiday) for most federal workers. But those workers who stood to lose pay won't as a result of the new budget plan. The same pay reinstatement was approved retroactively several years ago when Congress and the White House went through a similar idiotic budget shutdown game.
During the recent shutdown, many nonessential federal services and facilities, from the Smithsonian Institution to national parks around the country, that would normally have been opened either closed or ran on skeleton staffs. Had the pay reinstatement not been approved, some furloughed employees would have lost 60 percent of a week's pay.
Early-Out Wishful Thinking
Several federal workers called about yesterday's item about the early-out that has been approved for D.C. government employees. They were hoping that it somehow meant that all government employees who live or work in D.C. were being offered early retirement. Unfortunately for them, that isn't what it meant.
The early-out applies only to about 3,600 D.C. government employees, not federal workers in the District, who are at least 50 years old with 20 years of service and to District employees of any age with 25 years' service.
The early-out doesn't apply to other federal workers, nor is it available to D.C. government employees if they are paid special rates or are in hard-to-fill jobs.
Postal rate watchers are wondering what the new budget agreement will do to the price of a postage stamp. One thing is sure: Stamp prices aren't going down.
The new agreement requires the Postal Service to pay for cost-of-living adjustments for postal workers who have retired since July 1, 1971. That is when the Post Office Department left the Cabinet and became a quasi-independent agency. That change is expected to cost the Postal Service $3.2 billion during the next five years.
The new budget plan also forces the Postal Service to pay the employer (government) share of health premiums for people who retired since mid-1971. That is expected to cost the service almost $1 billion during the next five years.
Sheila Velazco, president-elect of the National Federation of Federal Employees, wants a summit meeting with the president and congressional leaders to talk about federal worker morale. She said morale, which was low before, is shot because of the recent budget crisis. She said if strikes against the government were legal, workers would be on picket lines.
Velazco is asking that the nation's top political leaders meet with federation leaders to send a message to all federal employees that they are appreciated and that there will not be a rerun of the October furlough jitters next year.