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Old 10-20-2008, 11:28 AM   #101
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Wow, this is an easy argument:

Work for the government? Defend its pension system.

Don't work for the government? Not crazy about its pension system.
Fair enough, but often times when pensions come "under attack," it's not made clear whether one is really looking to take away from someone who is already "in" for one or if one is merely talking about modifying the rules for future government employees.

Many times it sounds like people are advocating the former -- which leads to justifiable defensiveness among those currently working toward a promised government pension. If you've put in (say) 15 years and you have passed on more potentially lucrative positions in the private sector along the way because of your pension, you should be hopping mad if someone wants to take it away. And the defensive remarks could be fairly caustic -- after all, it is their meal ticket they feel is in danger, why wouldn't they be? I would, most likely -- and that just leads to a blow up. Does no one any good.

That's why I've always tried to make it very clear that I 100% oppose any efforts to take anything away from anyone who is already "in the system," so to speak, and that any reforms should only apply to new hires in the future. I believe that as the "retirement gap" appears to grow, and the more taxpayer resentment grows with respect to higher taxes to protect pensions they don't get, the more we need to consider changing the rules where it makes sense to do so. I don't believe all government jobs need to be extremely dependent on retention. For those that are, maintaining pensions more or less as is could make sense (but perhaps with lower pay than those who don't get them).

But first, IMO, to have a good discussion about it, to put at least some of it on the table, some of the defensiveness of the pension "haves" and the resentment of the pension "have nots" needs to be sidelined and at least discuss something midway: changing the rules for *future* new hires.

I don't have a perfect answer. I am opposed to breaking existing promises. But I also don't believe the status quo is sustainable and it's increasingly not a fair deal for the "have not" taxpayers -- even more so in states and local governments than the feds.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:47 AM   #102
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Totally agree, Ziggy--not fair ever to change the rules once the race has started (although tell that to my DH whose megacorp pension was frozen). And we need to consider changing the rules for the people who aren't even on the horse yet to be able to afford all riders and horses....
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Old 10-20-2008, 04:46 PM   #103
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The elimination of MegaCorp pensions and health care are a reality, so the question of OK is immaterial now. And I am not even suggesting that SS benefits or Fed Emp pensions and health care we eliminated as they have been in the private sector. What I questioned was COLA increases, especially now, when the private sector has had no such thing for decades.

But we're going in circles as your subsequent post shows, so we'll have to agree to disagree...
I'll tell you what, I'll send you the $140 a month increase in my military pension, and you can send me 5.8% of your investment portfolio.

Fair?
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:09 PM   #104
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That's most Federal Law Enforcement (not all) with the age limit - it used to be 35 - it's sometimes waived

(Border Patrol has currently upped their age limit to 41 or 42 I think - having trouble recruiting enough qualified people who can do the job - hmmm, maybe if we cut their pay & benefits it would help with recruiting more of those: out there on the border)
FAA Air Traffic Controller hiring has an age limit of 31.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:18 PM   #105
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FAA Air Traffic Controller hiring has an age limit of 31.
Yes, but they are currently under a fairly new & really screwed up version of "performance pay" that doesn't seem to be working out too well. From what I hear lots of hate & discontent going on in that agency (DOD as well)
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:34 PM   #106
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Yes, but they are currently under a fairly new & really screwed up version of "performance pay" that doesn't seem to be working out too well. From what I hear lots of hate & discontent going on in that agency (DOD as well)
The age 31 ceiling is raised to 36 for former military controllers. As for discontent, nothing has changed much since Reagan's mass firing in 1981. Current cash compensation averages 166K and the controller union, perennially dissatisfied, is protesting Uncle Sam imposing work rules after failing to reach agreement on a contract in 2006.

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Old 10-20-2008, 08:41 PM   #107
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The age 31 ceiling is raised to 36 for former military controllers. As for discontent, nothing has changed much since Reagan's mass firing in 1981. Current cash compensation averages 166K and the controller union, perennially dissatisfied, is protesting Uncle Sam imposing work rules after failing to reach agreement on a contract in 2006.

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How is it those guys/gals make that much - lots of OT?
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:00 PM   #108
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How is it those guys/gals make that much - lots of OT?
Since 1998, controller pay has increased 75% as the result of a contract that required the government to award raises above what other government workers received. OSI and SCI awards (organizational success increase & superior contribution increase) were guaranteed each year and added to base pay. In resisting the agency's attempt to link awards to performance, the union president stated in his blog from 2004, "To think that we protected pay and benefits for another two years is a tremendous victory for our union. And the fact that the vaunted "pay for performance" plan - the linchpin of the new administrator - the pride of the Department - is limited to a measly .8% of additional pay is such thievery we should all pick up our paychecks with a mask and a gun. And a big, sh**-eating grin."

The union now works under imposed work rules that are estimated to save taxpayers $1.9 billion over 5 years.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:07 PM   #109
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Since 1998, controller pay has increased 75% as the result of a contract that required the government to award raises above what other government workers received. OSI and SCI awards (organizational success increase & superior contribution increase) were guaranteed each year and added to base pay. In resisting the agency's attempt to link awards to performance, the union president stated in his blog from 2004, "To think that we protected pay and benefits for another two years is a tremendous victory for our union. And the fact that the vaunted "pay for performance" plan - the linchpin of the new administrator - the pride of the Department - is limited to a measly .8% of additional pay is such thievery we should all pick up our paychecks with a mask and a gun. And a big, sh**-eating grin."

The union now works under imposed work rules that are estimated to save taxpayers $1.9 billion over 5 years.
Wow, that's an eye-opener. I've got tremendous respect for the work controllers do, and I don't want the cheapest talent we can find doing that job. On the other hand, the quote you provided indicates a tremendous amount of hubris on the part of this union leader, and the contract seems, umm, very "generous." I wonder if the next POTUS will have the backbone Reagan had in standing up to this union. I wonder if there are enough military and other controllers to step in when the strike happens.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:24 PM   #110
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Hope nobody on this thread gets the idea the rest of us Fed folk get a salary like those ATC's! I knew their retirement package was similar to us LEO's but not their annual salary take.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:44 AM   #111
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That salary is a surprise. How is it broken down? There are many levels of air traffic controllers. Tower operators, scope operators, ground control. Having flown for many years, I would think some are more valuable than others. Is their pay just based on seniority? Does a tower operator in a small town low traffic area make the same as say Houston or Dallas?
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:42 PM   #112
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Wow, that's an eye-opener. I've got tremendous respect for the work controllers do, and I don't want the cheapest talent we can find doing that job. On the other hand, the quote you provided indicates a tremendous amount of hubris on the part of this union leader, and the contract seems, umm, very "generous." I wonder if the next POTUS will have the backbone Reagan had in standing up to this union. I wonder if there are enough military and other controllers to step in when the strike happens.
An awful lot of military manpower has been replaced by microprocessors, despite threats of "it'll never work" and "we won't have enough crew left to put out the fires & stop the flooding". At some inevitable point a computer is determined to make fewer errors than humans, even if those errors are considerably more catastrophic.

I can only imagine if the nation's highways & waterways were controlled in the same manner as the nation's airways. No wonder the FAA is working so hard on "open skies" and automated traffic controllers.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:35 PM   #113
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plan to "pay myself SS" by means of equal monthly payments from my TSP (=401K for those who don't know). Much of my TSP is in G Fund instead of equities, so I won't have to sell stocks to do that. Once I turn 66 I will decrease the equal monthly payments from the TSP accordingly.
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I always wonder what is the advantage to single people doing this instead of just collecting their SS benefits ? I can see the advantage for married couples but why should single members do this . Am I missing something ?
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:15 PM   #114
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Yes, but they are currently under a fairly new & really screwed up version of "performance pay" that doesn't seem to be working out too well. From what I hear lots of hate & discontent going on in that agency (DOD as well)
Historically, labor relations between the FAA and the controller workforce has always been bad. Controllers are civil servants, with the ego of a professional athlete. Same thing with military controllers with the enlisted vs. officer argument. It's a highly skilled profession, with little marketbility beyond the rigid structure of government employment. Many controllers never want to accept that reality.
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Old 10-21-2008, 04:24 PM   #115
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The age 31 ceiling is raised to 36 for former military controllers. As for discontent, nothing has changed much since Reagan's mass firing in 1981. Current cash compensation averages 166K and the controller union, perennially dissatisfied, is protesting Uncle Sam imposing work rules after failing to reach agreement on a contract in 2006.

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I wasn't aware of the age 36 change. I've been out of the loop for a good while. It's still too low to affect military retirees.

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Old 10-21-2008, 04:49 PM   #116
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That salary is a surprise. How is it broken down? There are many levels of air traffic controllers. Tower operators, scope operators, ground control. Having flown for many years, I would think some are more valuable than others. Is their pay just based on seniority? Does a tower operator in a small town low traffic area make the same as say Houston or Dallas?
Most of the small town towers have been contracted out to companies, paying low wages and zero benefits. There still might be some smaller cities, with combined tower/radar facilities where you could milk the FAA pay structure, doing very little work, in a low cost of living area. I don't think these account for the majority of FAA positions though.
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:19 PM   #117
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First of all, let's not equate paper-pushing federal bureaucrats with soldiers who are dodging bombs and bullets to keep us safe and (relatively) free. Not to demean other federal workers or their importance, but let's not compare them to folks being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
um....a minor correction, if i may...there are civil service employees deployed to the war zones, right now. the paper they are pushing is providing supplies and meals and weapons and medical needs and communications to the combatants.
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Old 11-17-2008, 08:30 PM   #118
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How is it those guys/gals make that much - lots of OT?
From today's Washington Post:

"Air traffic controllers on average earn $168,000 per year in cash compensation, a figure that includes overtime, according to the FAA. In addition to a new, negotiated contract, the controllers are also seeking back pay that the union says they are owed from raises and other compensation lost when the FAA imposed its contract. Democrats in Congress have tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation that includes controller back pay provisions.

Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), who chaired the House Aviation subcommittee from 2000 to 2006, said a retroactive back pay award could cost the government $2 billion over the five-year life of the contract, although the union dismisses Mica's price tag as absurd.
Mica said a decision by Democrats to relent to the back-pay demand could start a stampede by other union workers for raises."

The FAA is the only federal agency required to negotiate pay and benefits with its employees. President-elect Obama is expected to re-impose a Clinton executive order and require the agency to negotiate staffing.
Historically, this is an employer right and only negotiated at the discretion of the employer. It will be interesting to see, given the expensive bailouts, just how far the new president will go to appeasing the controller union.
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