HOYER AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE BENEFITS TO “TEMPORARY” AOC WORKERS PASSES

Hoyer Sends Letter to AOC Strongly Urging Immediate Action

For Immediate Release:

June 26, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – The House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment today to the fiscal year 2004 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, which was offered by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) to require the Architect of the Capital (AOC) to act immediately to provide basic worker benefits to ‘temporary’ workers. 

  In 2001, Congressman Hoyer drafted legislation that was enacted in the FY 2002 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill which prohibited the AOC from employing temporary workers for long periods of time without providing them with the eligibility for employee benefits.   Since the passage of this law, the AOC has ignored the proper tax treatment of benefits and contributions for temporary employees.  This amendment would require that the AOC begin providing temporary employees with the proper benefits they deserve.

  “Too many AOC tradesmen – plumbers, stonemasons, carpenters, and electricians, to name a few – have benefits withdrawn from their pay despite legislation passed in 2001 that required the AOC to provide benefits for long term temporary employees,” said Hoyer.  “I am pleased that the committee today adopted this amendment to resolve this situation so that the hardworking tradesmen we rely on for years at a time no longer lose hundreds of dollars each month.  I look forward to its subsequent implementation by the AOC.”

Attached is the text of Congressman Hoyer's letter to the Architect of the Capitol urging the Architect to immediately work to implement the policy goals enunciated by Congress.

June 26, 2003

Mr. Alan Hantman
Architect of the Capitol
SB15 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Hantman:

I was the principal proponent of legislation enacted in 2001 (Sec. 133, P.L. 107-68) to require that the Architect of the Capitol (AoC) generally provide its long-term temporary workers with eligibility for employee benefits.  In adopting this language, Congress expressed its judgment that it was unconscionable that the Architect employed hundreds of “temporary” workers, often continuously for years at a time, in categories of employment that effectively denied such workers eligibility for employee benefits through the federal government or through the private sector.  The Architect’s policy could not be defended, which is why we moved to put a stop to this practice in 2001.

To date, your agency has failed to demonstrate the slightest movement toward implementation of the policy direction given to you by the Congress in 2001.  In fact, in my judgment, it seems clear that the AoC has actually worked to thwart the proper implementation of Section 133 with respect to certain temporary workers covered by collective bargaining agreements.  Your agency has unreasonably taken the position that Section 133 prevents you from making the employer contributions needed to facilitate delivery of benefits through the private-sector, even though no statute can be identified that prevents you from doing so. 

What may be most troubling is that your agency lawyers have, on various occasions when it seems to suit them, shifted the positions taken by the AoC throughout this process.  In my view this demonstrates nothing less than bad faith in the course of my attempts to work with your office.  Most recently, in the spring of 2002, AoC lawyers requested my assistance in drafting a technical amendment to Section 133 clarifying that the AoC can make certain payments facilitating the private-sector benefits.  After language had been agreed upon and adopted by the full House of Representatives, these same lawyers prevailed upon the Senate to remove the language from the bill.

In order to lay to rest any confusion over the legality of implementing Section 133, the General Accounting Office recently reviewed the provision and related issues.  As you know, the GAO confirmed what I have believed throughout this process, that there is no impediment to AoC’s properly implementing Section 133 other than the intransigence emanating from your office.

You can no doubt understand my aggravation that we are still dealing with this issue nearly two years after enactment of Section 133, as well as my frustration at feeling that we are in this position for no valid reason.  I therefore write to urge in the strongest terms possible that you abandon your resistance to Section 133 and immediately work to implement the policy goals enunciated by Congress.  Failing this, I assure you that I will work for a legislative remedy to be imposed upon the Architect of the Capitol.

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