Attendance Derby: Congress vs. Feds

And the winner is, well…

Congress returns today after an extended break. Some have been away so long that when they arrive at National or Dulles airports they may need to ask directions to Capitol Hill. Or have an aide pick them up.

Not so with career feds. As we found out last week.

We tried a bold experiment. The idea was to see if anybody was around—and responsive—on the Friday before Labor Day: The twilight zone for the media, even with a hurricane zipping up the East Coast.


So we asked if anybody was on the job—or at least conscious if on holiday—and, if so, to contact us. Would you believe we received maybe 600 e-mail responses? Which we are still counting.

Will get back to that subject later on. But before the serious news cycle begins, pay raises, pay cuts, COLAs, health premium increases, teleworking, etc…thanks. Thanks for being there and thanks for taking time off to tell us where you were and what you were doing.

Back to reality tomorrow. But for now, just wanted to go on the record that you all (that would be “youse” in Philadephia and Brooklyn) are pretty remarkable people doing some pretty remarkable things. Thanks!

Almost Indispensible

Nobody is indispensible, we all know that. But some people come close. Case in point: Tom Glennon who has decided to retire just shy of 42 years with Uncle Sam. He started with the old Civil Service Commission’s retirement office, got his master’s at night from GWU, then moved over to programs covering early-outs, layoffs, buyouts and career transition. When CSC became the Office of Personnel Management he did too. Lots of knowledge, a real mentor to lots of people, and a funny (as in sense of humor) guy who could translate VSIPs, RIFs, VERAs, etc., into English. He probably would have hung around another 40 years. But the sudden death (in May) of his wife Brenda—also an OPM veteran—means he needs more family time at home.

Indispensible. No. But definitely close enough for government work!!!

Postal Contract Bargaining

Groups representing nearly 300,000 postal clerks and rural letter carriers have begun bargaining with the U.S. Postal Service for a new contract. The current agreement between the USPS and the American Postal Workers Union, and National Rural Letter Carriers Association expires Nov. 20th. Contracts between the Mail Handlers union and the National Association of Letter Carriers expire in Nov. 2011. The about-to-expire contract covers more than 260,000 craft employees.

Unlike the white collar federal workforce—a majority of which does not belong to a union—the vast majority of postal workers are union members and pay union dues. And the postals, unlike their civil service counterparts in Defense, Interior, GSA and other agencies can bargain over wages. Salaries for non-postal employees are set by Congress and the White House.

Thanks to its quasi-government status the USPS is supposed to raise its own revenue. In an era when people are abandoning letters stuffed inside envelopes with a stamp for e-mail, the USPS is hurting financially. It has proposed eliminating many post offices and facilities and dropping one day from its six-day-per-week delivery cycle.

TSP August a Downer

After posting gains of 7 to nearly 11 percent in July, the C, S and I funds of your Thrift Savings Plan did, as we feared, a nose-dive in August. The international stock index I fund dropped 3.14 percent; the small company index S fund was down 5.59 percent and the S&P 500 index C fund was down 4.51 percent. For the year-to-date returns, and returns over the last 12 months, click here.

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