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Scales of justice

Court Rejects Attempt to Dismiss AFGE/Council 222 Lawsuit

On June 22, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia June denied a motion by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) that sought to dismiss a lawsuit filed by AFGE on behalf of Council 222 of HUD Locals. AFGE's lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of appointments to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP).

The FSIP, part of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, resolves impasses in contract negotiations between agencies and unions. The FSIP can impose binding contract terms on federal agencies and labor unions. All of the FSIP's members are appointed by the president.

AFGE explains that agencies have declared bargaining impasses "in a rush to send the cases to the stacked FSIP. These actions have resulted in FSIP rubber-stamping anti-worker proposals from agencies."

Council 222 and HUD have been renegotiating our term contract. We have been unable to reach agreement on a number of articles, which are now before the FSIP. Both Council 222 and HUD have provided the FSIP with arguments in favor of their positions and now await the FSIP's decision on whose language will be imposed.

The case before the D.C. District Court argues that the way FSIP members are appointed violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution because FSIP members wield substantial power over federal sector labor relations but are not appointed "with the advice and consent of the Senate." The National Veterans Affairs Council and Social Security Administration Council have filed similar challenges.

AFGE Cautions Lawmakers Against Premature Reopening

On June 25, 2020, AFGE Public Policy Director Jacqueline Simon provided a statement to the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations during a hearing that examined how the government can protect federal employees while continuing operations and providing vital resources to the public. Ms. Simon cautioned lawmakers against prematurely reopening federal worksites.

Danger Ahead on roadblock

“We need testing, social distancing, and contact tracing so new outbreaks can be identified and everyone who has been exposed can be quarantined,” Simon said in her prepared statement. “A premature end of these measures is a guarantee of resurgence and a guarantee that thousands more will suffer and die.”

AFGE sent a letter on April 22 to the Office of Management and Budget detailing six preconditions that should be met before offices are re-opened:

  • Universal testing for COVID-19,
  • Using science-based and objective standards for the safe return to worksites,
  • Treating all workers equally in terms of their risk of exposure,
  • Full compliance with OSHA and CDC guidelines and adequate protective supplies at all worksites,
  • Removal of symptomatic employees and those reporting contact with infected workers, and
  • Compliance with any and all bargaining obligations.

AFGE President Everett Kelley rebuked the administration for issuing governmentwide guidance on reopening federal worksites "that is both pre-mature and imprudent.” Kelley stated, “These guidelines would, if implemented too soon, worsen the crisis, and unnecessarily expose millions of Americans to illness and potentially, to death."

FLRA Finds HUD Committed Unfair Labor Practice

In a March 6, 2020, decision, the Federal Labor Relations Authority agreed with an arbitrator that HUD committed an unfair labor practice by failing to provide information requested by the Union. The Union had requested information about travel expenses related to negotiations. The arbitrator held that the Union showed a particularized need for its requests in spite of HUD's arguments to the contrary. HUD argued to the FLRA that the Union's information request became moot because it involved a provision that was no longer under contention. The FLRA disagreed with HUD, saying "the Union's information request is not moot because the disclosure of the information pertains to an ongoing ULP [unfair labor practice] that may recur." Read the FLRA's decision.

Impasses Panel Rejects HUD’s Request
to Cut Off Bargaining

Ashaki Robinson Johns
President
Ashaki Robinson Johns

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) got a rare slap on the wrist from the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) when the Panel rejected the HUD’s obvious effort to declare an impasse before HUD and the Union had even finished negotiating all of the contract articles. The FSIP, whose job is to resolve impasses between unions and agencies in contract negotiations, declined to get involved as the parties have not yet reached an impasse.

“AFGE Council 222 is grateful that the FSIP has seen through HUD management's newest attempt to short-circuit the bargaining process,” said Council 222 President Ashaki Robinson. “Hopefully, the agency will finally come to the table with a genuine effort to bargain in good faith so that the long-standing amicable labor-management relationship at HUD can be maintained." Read more

AFGE Wins Appeal in Data Breach Lawsuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit mostly agreed with AFGE and the National Treasury Employees Union in their lawsuit against OPM and a federal contractor related to the disclosure of the personal records of 21.5 million individuals. The court of appeals sent the case back to the district court. Read more.

House Republicans Propose Reducing Feds' Pay, Benefits, Pension

paycut: scissors cutting $100 bill

The House Republican Study Group has released an undated report that describes supposed problem areas in the federal government. Using alarmist language that sets up federal workers as opponents of the American people, the report calls the government "a grossly inefficient bureaucracy" that "wields too much authority over every aspect of our lives [so] it becomes a threat to our prosperity and the very foundation of our republic." Read more.

President's 2021 Budget Proposal a Net Loss for Employees

AFGE calls budget “punitive and ridiculous.”

oppressed: stepping on the worker

The President's 2021 budget proposal calls for only a 1% increase in federal civilian employee salaries, far less than the 3% proposed for the military. It also calls for increased employee contributions to the FERS, elimination of the cost-of-living adjustments for current and future FERS retirees, and a cut in CSRS retirees' COLA. Read more.

In contrast, to ensure that federal employees are paid fairly, Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation calling for a 3.5% federal pay raise in 2021. They introduced similar legislation in each of the past five years, too.

COVID-19

HUD Finally Mandates Telework in Delayed Response to COVID-19

Late at night on March 18, a full week after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and days after President Trump declared a national emergency, HUD emailed employees to announce mandatory telework for almost all employees.

Here's what you need to know:

  • The directive is effective Friday, March 20.
  • It applies to all personnel who are telework ready or telework eligible.
  • You do not need to have a telework agreement in place.
  • The work you perform at home can be ANY work, not just your usual assignments.
  • Supervisors will identify employees who are not telework eligible and have to report to the office to perform mission-essential work.
  • Employees who are neither telework eligible nor required to be physically present in the office will be placed on administrative leave.

For more information, see the email sent by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, Chad Cowen, and the information on Telework Guidance for COVID-19, Telework Readiness, and Helpful HUD Phone Numbers.

Called into the Boss's Office?

Do you know your rights? You don't have to go it alone! Read more about your rights and how AFGE Local 476 can help you.

Backlog Grows at EEOC

Employees who want to take their discrimination complaints to the EEOC are going to have to wait in line for a long time before their cases are heard, according to the Government Standard. The AFGE publication reports that sexual harassment claims were up 13.6 percent in 2018 at the same time that the EEOC’s workforce dropped below 2,000 employees for the first time since before 1980. President Trump’s proposed budget for FY 2020 would slash the EEOC’s budget by another $23.7 million and cut staff by 180 more positions, including mediators, judges, intake representatives, and 50 investigators.