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September 1991, Vol. 114, No. 9
Federal Employees' Compensation Act
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act: An overview
Willis J. Nordlund
Various milestones stand out in recent U.S. history and serve, as it were, to mark the passage of time in the Nation: October 24, 1929, commonly cited as the beginning of the Great Depression; December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War 11; and November 22, 1963, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Everyone remembers with great clarity what they were doing at those particular times, and many individuals speak readily, if pensively, about what they were doing, how they felt when they heard the news, and what transpired in their lives over the ensuing days, weeks, and months. Even pivotal events like these, however, gradually merge into the stream of history and become only markers or flags that permit us to measure and better understand the passage of time.
Often, these milestones produce a series of related social changes. For example, the Nation's entry into World War 11 saw women leave home, many for the first time, to help in the civilian war effort. Subsequently, the role of women in the economy was forever changed. Similarly, the drama surrounding the death of President Kennedy set the stage for the passage of landmark civil rights legislation. And most of the social welfare initiatives, income maintenance programs, and labor laws that today are part of the fabric of American society trace their origins to the economic recovery programs introduced during the Great Depression.
Occasionally, landmark legislation arises from something less than a social cataclysm. One of the most significant social policy statutes predating the Great Depression is the Federal Employees' Compensation Act of 1916 (FECA). The culmination of more than three decades of ferment aimed at recognizing the trauma of injuries in the Federal workplace, the Act established a general-purpose program to protect essentially all civilian Federal employees and their dependents from the consequences of workplace injury and death.
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 1991 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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