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AFGE Named Exclusive Representative for FEMA Employees

FLRA ruling allows union to create consolidated bargaining unit for FEMA workers nationwide

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees has been named the exclusive representative for more than 2,500 bargaining unit employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority issued a ruling May 7 allowing individual bargaining units within FEMA to consolidate into a single national unit. AFGE was certified to be the exclusive representative of employees within the consolidated unit, pursuant to FLRA regulations and provisions of Title 5 of the U.S. Code.

The consolidated unit will cover employees in the following nine locations where AFGE has existing bargaining units:

  • FEMA Region II, headquartered in New York City and covering employees in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
  • FEMA Region III, headquartered in Philadelphia and covering employees in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia
  • FEMA Region IV, headquartered in Atlanta and covering employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee
  • FEMA Region V, headquartered in Chicago and covering employees in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin
  • FEMA Region VII, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and covering employees in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska
  • FEMA Region IX, headquartered in San Francisco and covering employees in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Islands
  • FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC
  • The National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md.
  • The FEMA Special Facility in Mount Weather, Va.

Immediately upon notification of consolidation, representatives from the nine locals met in caucus and elected an interim president and an alternate. Gerald Collins, president of AFGE Local 3836 in FEMA Region IV, was elected interim president. Karl Desimone, president of AFGE Local 1754 at the Special Facility, was elected the alternate.

Collins said there are several advantages to employees being covered by a consolidated unit.

“The major advantage to the consolidation is that there will no longer be a need for nine separate negotiated agreements. Now we will have one agreement dealing with all issues of national concern throughout the agency. Another advantage will be in how unfair labor practices will now be handled by a single national entity instead of nine individual locals,” Collins said.

The existing locals will retain their autonomy on issues affecting employees on a local level, while benefiting from being part of a larger unit that can speak with one voice on matters affecting FEMA employees nationwide, Desimone said.

“While there is strength in numbers, the true test of any consolidation is how involved the locals are in the overall operations of the collective. We believe we potentially have the best of both worlds – individual autonomous locals and a consolidated, strong, representative national body,” Desimone said.

Armed TSA Transportation Security Law Enforcement Personnel Will Make Airports Safer

Image from eyeliam -- Jason Lander

Image from eyeliam
— Jason Lander

WASHINGTON, DC – Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued the following statement in support of the aviation safety and security reforms advanced today by J. David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), at a field hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee in Los Angeles, CA.

Transportation Trade Department Logo“We join AFGE today in calling for the creation of Transportation Security Law Enforcement positions that will be charged with enhancing security at airport checkpoints throughout the country.  This proposal is a common sense response to the tragic shooting and killing of a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) last November at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  That tragedy was a stark reminder that the nation’s 45,000 TSOs – on the frontlines of keeping our skies and airports safe – still face too much exposure to dangers and violence in and around security checkpoints.

“While we commend the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for its call for increased armed presence at airport security check points and in other sensitive areas of the terminals, we urge TSA Administrator Pistole to support staffing armed TSA Transportation Security Law Enforcement officer positions as a logical next step in fortifying security checkpoints.  This approach is a win-win: it will keep TSOs safer while also enhancing passenger safety and security.

“It only makes sense to keep the safety of these security check points within the jurisdiction of TSA – it will give the agency an important tool to better protect TSOs and the flying public and will free up law enforcement resources for deployment in other parts of airport terminals.

“I also join AFGE’s call today for Congress to pass H.R. 4026, the Honor our Fallen TSA Officers Act, which was recently introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA).  This bill would grant TSOs the public safety officer status they deserve and make families of TSOs who die in the line of duty eligible for federal death benefits, including the family of the TSO who was killed  in the LAX shooting.”

AFGE Launches Campaign to Increase Public Appreciation of Federal Employees

Year-long “I Am AFGE” campaign features federal employees who make America great

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees is kicking off a year-long campaign to increase the public’s awareness and appreciation of the women and men who work for them each and every day.

The multi-faceted campaign, called “I Am AFGE,” launches today with the release of a two-minute video that highlights the invaluable services federal employees deliver and explains how federal employees have much in common with the citizens they are sworn to serve.

Subsequent videos will be released every three weeks, beginning March 26. These 15 short-form documentaries will highlight individual federal employees who carry out important work across the country, including caring for veterans, processing Social Security checks, researching cures for deadly diseases, cleaning up hazardous waste, guarding our nation’s prisons, and ensuring the safety of the flying public.

“Federal employees deliver programs and services that touch tens of millions of American lives each and every day, yet some folks don’t make that connection between the work that federal employees do and the benefits to the nation and individual communities,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“The goal of this campaign is to break down the stereotypes that some folks have about federal employees and the federal government, and highlight all the great work that federal employees are doing. The best way to do this is through federal employees’ own voices.”

More than two dozen federal employees were interviewed for the campaign during AFGE’s annual Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference in February.

The videos will be posted to a dedicated website, www.afge.org/IAm, and distributed to hundreds of news outlets across the country. The campaign also will be promoted through social media, an employee photo contest and other events.

In addition, a special toll-free phone line has been established to record and share testimonials from federal employees or citizens who value the services that federal employees provide. The number to call is 1-844-IAM-AFGE (426-2343).

“Federal employees are the most dedicated workers you could ever have the fortune of meeting. This campaign is our way of shining a light on them and reminding the public why the work that they do matters,” Cox said.

Head of largest federal employee union calls for 4% pay raise in 2015

AFGE president says President Obama must send strong show of support for federal workforce

AFGE Logo 2WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today called on President Obama to provide federal employees with a 4% pay raise next year.

Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget, to be unveiled next week, will propose a 1% across-the-board pay raise for federal employees and members of the military. But that is a pitiful amount that does little to help federal workers recover from a three-year pay freeze, higher retirement contributions and the loss of pay due to sequestration-related furloughs last year, Cox said.

“A 4 percent pay raise is a modest and affordable increase that will help employees keep up with rising living costs, including higher retirement and healthcare expenses,” Cox said.

Wages for federal employees have gone up just 3 percent since 2010, while prices have risen 9 percent – not counting additional out-of-pocket expenses for sequestration-related furloughs, retirement contributions and healthcare premiums. In salary alone, federal employees are more than 6 percent worse off under President Obama.

Federal employees had their pay frozen for three consecutive years, and new workers are being forced to pay substantially more toward their retirement. Without counting the losses due to sequestration furloughs, these cuts amount to $120 billion in lower wages and benefits for federal employees during the next decade.

“The president must send a strong message that inflicting pain on federal employees was a miserable failure. The administration punished federal workers in order to endear itself to those who despise the federal workforce, and it didn’t work,” Cox said. “If the president truly wants to put an end to austerity and the decline of the middle class, there is no better place to start than with his own employees.”

AFGE Issues Top 10 List of Actions Obama Should Take to Help Federal Workers

Union issues response to President’s call to action in State of the Union address

AFGE Logo 2

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, has outlined 10 issues President Obama can address today through executive order to improve the federal government’s workforce.

The Top 10 list comes in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he pledged to act without legislation “wherever and whenever” possible to expand opportunity for American families.

“These are concrete actions President Obama can take right now to address inequalities that currently exist in the federal workforce, while improving accountability and saving taxpayer dollars,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

The list:

1.      Align locality boundaries so hourly and salaried federal employees who work in the same location are treated the same when it comes drawing local pay area boundaries.  No private firm that pays geographic pay differentials treats its hourly and salaried employees differently in this respect and the federal government should follow suit.  The disparate treatment of federal workers who work side-by-side for the same employer is unfair and unproductive.

2.      Extend to Transportation Security Officers the same disciplinary appeal rights enjoyed by most federal employees, including Transportation Security Administration managers. Currently, TSOs are limited in their ability to appeal adverse actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board, instead having to rely primarily on an internal disciplinary review board within TSA.

3.      Immediately stop the Department of Veterans Affairs from downgrading low-wage positions, many of which go to veterans and disabled veterans. These downgrades, dubbed a “reclassification” by the agency, cut thousands of dollars annually from already paltry salaries, and when applied to current workers, cause reductions in salary and retirement benefits and degrade services to veterans.

4.      Free agencies from the Office of Management and Budget’s arbitrary constraints on the size of in-house workforces, so that they can instead manage by budgets and ceilings. If agencies have work to do and money to spend, there is no reason why federal employees cannot be used. Currently, these performance decisions are being dictated by arbitrary workforce caps and cuts.

5.      Provide agencies with a long-awaited costing methodology to govern the insourcing process and encourage them to look for opportunities to save money through intelligent insourcing.

6.      Direct agencies to expedite compliance with inventories of service contracts and integrate them into budget processes, so agencies have the same control over service contract spending that they have already over federal employee spending and can systematically identify bad contracts or contracts that cost too much.

7.      Direct the Department of Defense to stop using borrowed military manpower, which is resulting in scores of hard-working civil servants – many of them Wounded Warriors – being replaced with more expensive, less experienced military personnel.

8.      Ensure that the administration is ready to issue a rule to implement the statutory reduction in the annual cap on taxpayer subsidies on contractor compensation. In June, the cap will be reduced to $487,000 assuming the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council has issued the necessary rule.

9.      Support allowing Bureau of Prisons correctional officers who work in highly dangerous areas of federal prisons to routinely carry pepper spray to defend themselves if physically attacked by violent inmates.

10.  Order the U.S. Department of Agriculture to withdraw its proposal to radically overhaul the federal poultry inspection system by removing most federal inspectors from the slaughter line and turning over inspection activities currently performed by federal inspectors to untrained plant employees. The cost-cutting plan would endanger the health and safety of employees and the American public by allowing plants to increase their line speeds up to 175 chicken carcasses per minute. This means the lone remaining federal inspector on the slaughter line would have one-third of one second to examine each chicken carcass for disease, infection and contamination.

Unions Prevail In Fight To Keep ‘Knives Off Planes’

One of the biggest reasons workers join unions is to improve the safety of their working conditions.  In some cases, the union stands up to oppose changes that would reduce the already safe conditions of their workers.  This was the case after the Department of Homeland Security changed their policy to allow knives on commercial flights.

This policy change brought outrage from many of the organizations who represent workers in the aviation industry.

On May 6, The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) was one of nine organizations representing over 400,000 aviation professionals, passengers and law enforcement officers that filed a legal petition with Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging them to rescind the policy change and keep the knife ban in place.

“I commend Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Pistole for listening to our concerns and having the wisdom to withdraw this proposal in light of the grave safety and security risks to our members at TSA, to the flying public and aviation employees,” Cox said.

After today’s announcement to rescind the policy  the Transportation Worker Union President James C. Little released this statement:

Three months ago, on March 5, and every day since, our union and others concerned about passenger safety urged that a policy shift that would allow sticks, knives and clubs on planes be reversed.  The leadership of TSA listened and they should be commended for taking the advice of flight attendants and other workers at commercial airlines charged with passenger safety.

This is a very important issue to The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who is the exclusive representative for the more than 45,000 Transportation Security Officers. TSO’s screen all commercial airline passengers, baggage and cargo.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. released this statement after today’s announcement:

“This decision is the right one for the safety and security of every Transportation Security Officer, airline passenger and aviation employee.”

“In addition to the lessons learned on 9/11 about the threat of terrorists armed with knives, our concern is for our members who are assaulted far too often by irate passengers. Keeping the knife ban will help keep those confrontations from escalating,” Cox said.  

 

How Much More Does The GOP In The US House Want From Federal Employees???

In January the NHLN reported that the Republicans in the US House were trying to steal from the Federal Workers, by attempting to block the .5% raise proposed by President Obama.

Today the House GOP cemented their distain for Federal Workers by voting to freeze workers pay for the rest of FY 13.   The vote was mostly down party lines 261 to 154 according to GovExec.com

“Democrats used the hour-long floor debate Thursday and Friday on the bill to defend federal workers, but also to accuse Republicans of failing to avoid sequestration, which is scheduled to begin March 1.”

Well I guess that would mean that money is going to be used to offset sequestration cuts right?  WRONG!

“Nixing an across-the-board pay increase for feds this year would save the government $11 billion over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., said on Thursday that agencies could use the savings from extending the pay freeze through 2013 for other federal programs. The money saved would not go toward overall deficit reduction or replacing any part of the sequester.” — GovExec.com (emphasis added)

After the vote, J. David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees had this to say:

“Today, 261 House members voted to deny a quarter of a percent pay raise to more than 2 million federal employees, whose salaries have been frozen since January 2010. This vote sends an extremely insulting and hostile message to the VA nursing assistant who makes $27,000 a year, to the USDA meat inspector who earns $32,000 a year, to the federal penitentiary correctional officer who earns less than $39,000 a year.

The message from these House members is loud and clear: we don’t value the work that you do, and we think you should continue to be picked on because we oppose the services you provide to the American people.

These lawmakers persist in voting to freeze federal employee salaries year after year, yet they turn a blind eye to the rapid growth in taxpayer-funded salaries of contractor employees. The cap in contractor compensation has more than doubled in the past 10 years and jumped 10 percent in the past year alone, to a whopping $763,000. Capping these contractor salaries at a more reasonable $200,000 a year would save taxpayers at least $5 billion every year, or $50 billion over 10 years.”

When will the Republican in Congress stop using the federal workers as their budgeting piggy bank.  These are hard working middle class families how are more than deserving of a pay raise.  Many of them have not seen a pay raise in years do to Congressional pay freezes that resulted in over $120 billion in give backs.

Everyone including government employees understand the issues facing the federal government right now.  Congress must stop stealing from the workers to pay their debts.

Republicans even connected Congressional pay to federal workers pay. Democrats tried to make H.R. 273 two separate votes, but Republican leaders refused to allow one vote to freeze Congressional pay and one vote to freeze federal employee pay.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH) understands. That is why she voted against this bill.

“Today, House Leadership put a bill on the floor to freeze the pay of hard-working middle class federal workers for the third year in a row, and tried to get Members of Congress to join them by adding Member pay to the bill.  I have in the past voted against and would continue to vote against raising my own pay, which is excellent, but I will not vote against a modest pay raise for middle class federal workers—about $5 a week for a worker earning $50,000 a year.  Leadership should concentrate on closing loopholes and reforming the tax code instead of shrinking middle class wages.”

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