NTEU Chapter 296
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  • The White House is continuing to meet with congressional leaders on the next coronavirus relief bill while individual Senators push for programs to help federal employees.
    Aug 05, 2020

    SUMMARY:  The White House is continuing to meet with congressional leaders on the next coronavirus relief bill while individual Senators push for programs to help federal employees. 

    As the number of Americans infected with the coronavirus continues to grow, the White House and congressional leaders continue to negotiate another relief bill.  The basis for the negotiations is the HEALS Act, a collection of bills introduced by Senate Republicans which includes increased funding for some agencies such as the IRS and CBP, and the HEROES Act, H.R. 6800, which passed the House in May and contains many provisions supported by NTEU, including:

    • Creating a COVID-19 Heroes Fund that would provide federal employees with additional premium pay of $13 per hour, up to a maximum $10,000 for those whose basic pay is less than $200,000, for either those who have regular or routine contact with the public or those who must report to a worksite where social distancing is not possible and other preventative measures are not available.
    • Continued telework for all eligible federal employees throughout the pandemic, plus incentives for agencies to expand their telework programs.
    • Allowing federal first responders to stay in their current law enforcement retirement plans even if they are unable to meet the physical requirements of their position due to exposure to coronavirus and are moved to other civil service jobs.
    • A presumption that federal employees who work with the public and are diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted it in the workplace, for workers’ compensation purposes.
    • Eliminating out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program.
    • Extending the emergency leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act to all federal employees.

    At the same time, individual Senators are calling for additional provisions to be included in the relief package to help federal employees.  Last week, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and 21 Senators sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to include requirements for maximum telework for federal employees and contractors during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition,

    Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Federal Labor-Management COVID Partnership Act, S. 4347, that would create formal labor-management task forces at both the Executive Branch and the agency level that would be responsible for reviewing current telework, leave, cleaning, and training policies, supplying policy recommendations and giving federal workers an avenue to provide input as the Executive Branch responds to the coronavirus and any future crisis.  The bill has five cosponsors.

    NTEU will continue to work with our allies on Capitol Hill and fight to protect your health and safety during this pandemic and to include necessary provisions in the next coronavirus relief package. 

                                                                                        Anthony M. Reardon

    National President


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