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Wed, Oct 26, 2005

Senators Want Displaced FSS Workers To Receive Benefits

FAA Would Pay Workers' Salaries As They Work For Lockheed

Flight Service Station workers who watched as their jobs were outsourced to Lockheed earlier this month may still be able to collect retirement benefits, if a Senate amendment passed last week is approved.

According to the Washington Post, the amendment -- approved last week by the Senate -- would aid employees who were within two years of federal retirement age, and are at risk of losing all or most of their pension credits, after losing their jobs when the FAA transferred their duties to Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed won the contract to operate FSS facilities under President Bush's "competitive sourcing" initiative, which calls on agencies to determine whether the government's commercial activities can be turned over to the private sector and provided at a lower cost, according to the Washington Post.

The amendment would essentially keep those workers on the federal payroll so they could qualify for their civil service retirement and insurance benefits. These workers would work in Lockheed-operated facilities, but be paid by Uncle Sam.

Lockheed spokesman Joe Wagovich said the company supported the Senate amendment, saying it "will help employees who are close to retirement." The loss of federal pension credits "has been a point of contention, and we are happy that they will be dealt with in this manner," he said.

Lockheed has hired 1,648 of the displaced FAA employees, according to the FAA. Estimates of those helped by the proposal ranged from 175 to 250.

The case could set a precedent for dealing with federal employees near retirement and who lose their jobs due to privitization, or through the upcoming round of base closings.

The Senate plan is also seen as a compromise over an earlier House-backed bill that, if approved by the Senate, would nullify the Lockheed contract outright. It is that bill that has drawn threats of a presidential veto.

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com, www.senate.gov

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