Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley teamed up on a teleconference this afternoon to denounce a bill that would steeply cut federal employees pensions.
Connolly and Kelley urged lawmakers to vote down HR 3813, the Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act, when it comes up for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee vote tomorrow. (Connolly expects the bill will pass the Republican-controlled committee on a party-line vote, which he said would be unfortunate.)
They denounced all the bill’s provisions, such as increasing contribution rates for current and future feds, switching to a high-five system for future feds, and cutting future feds’ pensions. Slashing federal retirement benefits — on top of the pay freeze and general anti-fed atmosphere from politicians these days — will make it much more difficult to recruit the most talented employees, they said.
“This is a real, profound breach of faith with the existing federal workforce,” Connolly said.
But another provision in the bill — eliminating the Federal Employees Retirement System supplement for retirees not yet eligible for Social Security — especially angered two IRS employees nearing retirement who were also on the conference call. John Kelshaw, who works in IRS’ appeals office in New Jersey, said he started out as a Civil Service Retirement System employee, but switched over to FERS partly because of the promised supplement.
“I have kept up my end of the bargain, but Congress wants to change the rules now,” Kelshaw said. “A promise made should be a promise kept.”
Sharyn Phillips, an estate tax attorney at the IRS’ Manhattan office, wants to retire after 30 years of service in 2016, when she’ll be 57. She made her retirement plans based on the FERS supplement, and said she wants to use her time to take care of her husband, who retired four years ago in poor health. But losing that supplement (which for many eligible feds amounts to several hundred dollars a month) would put retirement out of her reach, at least for several more years.