Democratic Party platform on concerns of workers

Newswatch ... ON FEDERAL WORKERS

July 22, 1992|By Carol Emert | Carol Emert,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- The new Democratic Party platform addresses some of the usual concerns of federal and other workers as well as some other issues that have come to the forefront in the 1990s, such as sexual harassment and environmental degradation.

The platform, adopted at last week's Democratic National Convention in New York, sets the goals of the party for the coming four years. The plan was based on input from officials and constituent groups from around the country.

Marylanders sitting on the Democratic National Committee's platform committee included Comptroller Louis Goldstein, Ina Taylor, Leon Billings, Margareta Crampton, Al From and Robert P. Legg.

Equal time will be given in this column to the Republicans, following their convention in August. Now, for the Democrats.

Preamble: "An expanding, entrepreneurial economy of high-skill, high-wage jobs is the most important family policy, urban policy, labor policy, minority policy and foreign policy America can have. . . ."

Workers' rights: "Our workplaces must be revolutionized to make them more flexible and productive. We will reform the job safety laws to empower workers with greater rights and to hold employers accountable for dangers on the job. We will act against sexual harassment in the workplace.

"We will honor the work ethic -- by expanding the earned income tax credit so no one with children at home who works full-time is still in poverty . . . by making work more valuable than welfare; and by supporting the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively without fear of intimidation or permanent replacement during labor disputes . . ."

Responsibility for the environment: ". . . We believe America's youth can serve its country well through a civilian conservation corps. To protect the public health, we will clean up the environmental horrors at federal facilities . . . and vigorously prosecute environmental criminals . . ."

Responsible government: "Democrats in 1992 intend to lead a revolution in government, challenging it to act responsibly and be accountable, starting with the hardest and most urgent problems of the deficit and economic growth.

"Rather than throw money at obsolete programs, we will eliminate unnecessary layers of management, cut administrative costs, give people more choices in the service they get, and empower them to make those choices . . ." [Bill Clinton has said he intends to cut 100,000 from the federal work force through retirement and attrition.]

Responsible officials: "All branches of government must live by the laws the rest of us obey, determine their pay in an open manner that builds public trust, and eliminate special privileges. . . . We need . . . full political rights and protections for public employees . . ."

Retired, not riffed:

Federal workers who are scheduled for layoff just before they are due to retire may still be able to collect their retirement benefits if a proposed Office of Personnel Management policy goes into effect.

The proposed rule would allow victims of reductions-in-force to use any annual leave they have saved to extend their time on the payroll, if by doing so they can stretch their tenure long enough to qualify for retirement.

For example, a federal employee who is riffed three weeks before due to retire, and who has saved up three weeks or more of annual leave, may stay on the agency's payroll for three extra weeks and then immediately begin withdrawing retirement benefits.

The employee also will continue to draw health and other benefits while having annual leave status.

Sharon Wells, an OPM spokeswoman, said that sick leave cannot be applied toward retirement. Only annual leave, which includes time off for vacations and other personal needs, counts.

OPM is seeking written comments on the proposed rule. Letters should be sent by Sept. 14 to Leonard R. Klein, associate director for career entry, Office of Personnel Management, Room 6F08, 1900 E Street, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20415.

Irate labor:

The labor members of the Pay-for-Performance Labor-Management Committee are furious over a draft policy that the committee's management members drew up without them.

The full committee completed its recommendations to Congress late last year on ways to implement a merit-based pay system in the federal sector. But on June 10 the management contingent released its own plan and asked for comments from the other committee members.

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