e-Team Report, Nov. 13, 2012

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Welcome back!  After a brief respite from legislation and politics after the election, APWU e-Team is back with a snapshot of what is going on in Washington!

Lame Duck Congress and the Fiscal Cliff

Now that the elections are concluded, Congress has returned from its break for a lame duck session before the 113th Congress is sworn in on January 3rd, 2013.  One of the largest items lawmakers face during this session is the “fiscal cliff,” a wide array of tax increases and massive, across-the-board funding cuts for most government programs which are slated to occur automatically at the beginning of 2013.

While Congressional negotiators grappling with the “fiscal cliff” consider adjustments to the federal budget and taxes, APWU has joined with the Federal-Postal Coalition to remind Congress of a simple truth: federal and postal workers are already paying dearly.

A significant amount of savings to the federal budget in the last few years have come at the expense of federal and postal workers.  In a letter to lawmakers, APWU and the Federal-Postal Coalition state, “Federal and postal employees and their families are hardworking, middle-class Americans who are struggling during these tough times just like other Americans.” Said the letter, “No other group has been asked to financially contribute the way they have.” 

Given how much the pay and benefits of federal and postal employees have been cut in the past few years, the Coalition urged lawmakers not to attempt to extract further savings from the federal and postal workforce.  As the government workers’ organizations said, “The substantial budget savings that have been squeezed out of the federal workforce thus far should be taken into account when crafting any budget deal.”

To read the letter in full, please click here.

Send Congress a Message

Also of concern to middle-class families is the expiration of tax cuts on January 1, 2013, one portion of the "fiscal cliff".  The cost of the coming tax increase works out to $2,000 per year for middle-class Americans.

APWU stands by President Obama’s stated position to extend the tax cuts for Americans making less than $250,000 per year, which includes 98% of Americans.  APWU echoes the call by President Obama, who urges middle-class Americans to let Congress know how a tax increase of $2,000 per year would hurt them.

Furthermore, APWU President Cliff Guffey added, “We also must urge Congress to stand firm against cuts to the U.S. Postal Service and to the rights of postal employees.”

To read more and take action, please click here.

Meet the 113th Congress 

When the new Congress convenes in 2013, many new representatives and senators will take their seats in the 113th Congress.  There will be a dozen new senators and over sixty new representatives in the incoming freshman class of lawmakers. 

To read up and acquaint yourself with who all is coming to Washington, DC and where they come from, please click here.

Growing Vacancies on Board of Governors

To read a Federal Times article concerning vacancies and appointments to the Board of Governors to the USPS, please click here.

Hurricane Sandy

As residents of New Jersey and other areas affected by Hurricane Sandy work to rebuild and restore from the devastation of the storm, the Thrift Savings Plan has made some adjustments to accommodate their hardship.  The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board announced on their website that the temporary changes they are implementing will “allow participants who were affected by Hurricane Sandy or who had a family member affected by Hurricane Sandy to take a hardship withdrawal and to continue making TSP contributions in the 6-month period after the hardship withdrawal.”

To read more about the changes and the qualifying criteria, please click here.

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