Bill would close reservists' gap
WASHINGTON -- Maryland Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, has co-sponsored a bill that would pay federal employees who served in Operation Desert Shield the difference between their military and civilian salaries.
Under the measure introduced yesterday by Rep. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., the pay would be retroactive to the day that the reservists were mobilized.
"We must ensure that U.S. service members are not burdened with financial worries after serving their country in Operation Desert Storm," Durbin said.
Although Durbin did not have exact figures on the salary differences, his spokeswoman said, "It is a fairly well-known fact that there is quite a difference between what they're receiving in military pay and in their civilian pay."
How the legislation would fit into the fiscal 1992 budget hasn't been determined yet, Durbin said.
* The Department of Housing and Urban Development will give up to five days of administrative leave to employees whose reserve and National Guard units were activated for the war.
Making his agency the first to implement such a plan, HUD Secretary Jack Kemp said in a memo Monday that the move recognizes "the valiant sacrifices of our own HUD employees" who served in the Persian Gulf conflict.
Employees whose spouses were mobilized also will be eligible for the leave.
The action is intended to give employees and their families time to attend to personal matters that may have been neglected as well as to ease the transition back to family life, Kemp said.
"It is time to think about welcoming home the brave men and women of our military who have unselfishly placed themselves at great personal peril for the good of this country and the world," Kemp said.
Hundreds of federal employees have descended on Washington this week for legislative conferences and to lobby lawmakers.
A group of about 15 lobbyists from the National Treasury Employees Union met yesterday with Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., to review the union's agenda for this congressional session, according to Internal Revenue Service employee Shirley Garcia, vice president of NTEU Chapter 86 in Landover, in Prince George's County.
Mikulski, a longtime supporter of federal employees, was "very receptive" to the group, which emphasized its concerns on changes in the health-care system, the Hatch Act, pay and 20-year retirement for the IRS and the Customs Service, Garcia said.
James J. Parker 3rd, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2058 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, planned to meet with Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md.
Many of NFFE's priorities match those of NTEU, although NFFE also intends to make an issue of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, Baldwin said.
NFFE wants Congress to amend the act to expand the area under which it can bargain, NFFE President Sheila Velazco said. The current management-rights clause is too broad, she said.
The act also should be changed to force non-union members who benefit from union efforts to pay a service fee to the unions, Velazco said.
During the conferences, NFFE and NTEU jointly met with Office of Personnel Management Director Constance B. Newman, who discussed problems in the federal government between labor and management.
"We do have problems in labor-management relationships. I don't need to debate whether there is a problem," Newman said, citing an increasing number of appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"We have to do more and talk less" to enhance communication between labor and management, she said.
Newman offered some ways to improve communication:
* Improve pay and benefits for workers.
* Alter the attitudes of all employees. "From the Cabinet secretaries on down, there must be a recognition of the importance of each and every individual to accomplish a mission," she said.
* Ensure that supervisors have the needed resources and skills to be good managers.
* Stop granting promotions based solely on longevity without evaluating whether the employee in question has the skills needed for the new job. If the worker needs additional training, he or she should receive it, Newman said.
But, she added, because of her skepticism toward some training firms, she's not convinced that every dime spent on training is cost-effective.
NTEU headquarters in Washington moved over the weekend from its K Street address to Suite 600, 901 E St., N.W. The new phone number is (202) 783-4444.