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Have You Been Affected by Furloughs? We Want to Hear From You!

More than 700,000 federal government employees will experience up to a 20 percent pay cut due to forced furloughs. Are you an AFGE member affected by furloughs?  We want to hear from you about how furloughs are affecting your family, your life, and your community. Please click here to share your story with us and have your voices heard. If you would like to submit a photo with you entry please email it to afgecommsquad@gmail.com.

Please be sure to include your name, location, the federal agency you work for and your AFGE local number. So many of our members have shared their experiences and we want to hear from YOU!

Listen Now! Proposed Changes to Federal Employee Pensions, Health Benefits Analyzed on “Inside Government”

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Listen Now!

Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for analysis of proposed changes to federal employees’ pension plans and health benefits. The show, which originally aired on Friday, April 19, is now available on demand.

Bob Weiner, former Clinton White House spokesman, lauded the work of federal employees in the face of budget cuts, pay freezes and furloughs. Weiner also detailed sequestration’s harmful effects on cancer research.

AFGE Small Business Administration Council 228 President Elaine Powell-Belnavis then discussed the union’s labor contract agreement with SBA, which covers 2,000 federal employees and provides a range of benefits from an updated awards program to an expedited arbitration process.

Common Cause President and CEO and former Rep. Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania addressed the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) and increase in federal employees’ pension contributions in President Obama’s budget proposal.

Lastly, AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon detailed proposed changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com.

For more information, please visit InsideGovernmentRadio.com.

Listen Now! Reaction to Obama’s 2014 Budget Plan on “Inside Government”

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Listen Now!

Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for reactions to President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal. The show, which originally aired on Friday, April 12, is now available on demand.

AFGE National Council of Social Security Administration Field Operations Locals President Witold Skwierczynski addressed the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) and increase in federal employees’ pension contributions in the president’s budget proposal. Skwierczynski also discussed the status of unresolved articles – appraisals, merit promotions and telework – in the union’s contract agreement with SSA management.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare President and CEO Max Richtman continued the budget conversation, analyzing the chained CPI impact on Social Security benefits for seniors and veterans.

Lastly, AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon detailed proposed changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com.

For more information, please visit InsideGovernmentRadio.com.

AFGE DENOUNCES SINGLING OUT OF BORDER PATROL FOR LARGEST SEQUESTRATION HIT

Union says DHS decision will have dire consequences for border security

J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, today issued the following statement on sequestration’s impact on border security:

“On Friday, March 1, hours after he signed the sequester order, President Obama tried to describe to the press the impact of sequester on federal employees, active duty military and their families. He referred to ‘Border Patrol agents in the hot sun getting a 10 percent pay cut…’

“Just as ‘the hot sun’ is hardly the biggest risk Border Patrol agents take while performing their duties, the 10 percent pay cut to which the president referred is only a small portion of the economic pain the Department of Homeland Security has in store for them. In fact, DHS has singled out Border Patrol agents to receive by far the largest financial penalty of any other group of federal workers. The plan DHS has chosen for Border Patrol agents will mean a 35 percent decline in their paychecks for the rest of the fiscal year and beyond.

“Border Patrol agents have been singled out to lose 75 percent more of their paychecks than even civilian Department of Defense workers who face 22 days without pay (for a 20 percent pay cut). Secretary Napolitano has announced that she intends not only to furlough Border Patrol agents for 14 days, but also to impose a total moratorium on routine overtime pay. Together these policies will reduce the paycheck of a typical Border Patrol agent by 35 percent. Even within their own agency, these cuts stand out for lopsidedness and severity. For example, officers who police the ports and provide customs enforcement will be furloughed 14 days but retain overtime; there is every reason to believe that they will make up wages lost to furlough with compensatory overtime so that cargo and passengers will continue to move through ports of entry. But with this anti-Border Patrol policy, illegal “cargo and passengers” will likely flow into the U.S. as well.

“Guarding the border is not a nine-to-five job. Overtime work is routine, and when they are hired, agents are informed that they will almost never work a regular eight-hour shift. Instead, they are expected to work at least 10 hours every day and often more because they do not stop when they are in pursuit of drug and gun smugglers and others engaging in criminal activity on the border. But with the sequester policy DHS has fashioned for Border Patrol, agents will be instructed to stop working at the moment their straight shift ends. Good news for criminals and others who would enter our country illegally; but very bad news for Americans who rely on the courage and devotion of Border Patrol agents who risk their lives every day to keep drugs and guns and gangs outside our borders.

“We urge Secretary Napolitano to rethink this terrible decision. It is wrong for border security, and it is wrong to single out Border Patrol agents for such drastic and undeserved economic pain. Border Patrol agents are law enforcement professionals, and this policy will undermine their ability to carry out their mission to guard the border and protect American citizens. Apart from the inequity in the size of the economic sacrifice being demanded of them, they do not want to let criminal gangs and smugglers go just because their shift has ended. The moratorium on overtime combined with 14 furlough days must be reconsidered.”

AFGE Public Policy Director Appears on Federal News Radio

AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon recently appeared on Federal News Radio to discuss a proposed bill that would extend the pay freeze for federal employees. The bill was rejected by the Senate but is expected to return to the floor.

Listen to the radio interview here.

Click here to learn more about the radio show which originally aired on Jan. 3, 2013.

AFGE URGES CONGRESS TO REJECT PAY FREEZE EXTENSION FOR FEDERAL WORKERS

The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on members of Congress to reject a proposal that would extend the two-year pay freeze on federal employees for another year.

Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year.

“Reducing the salaries of federal workers through an extended pay freeze is a cheap political ploy,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Not only does it inflict tremendous damage on the families of these modestly paid workers, more than half of whom are veterans, but it also hits the communities where these employees live, since they will continue to be unable to afford any kind of economic activity beyond paying for the bare necessities of living.

OPM Director John Berry Discusses Employee Concerns, Fiscal Cliff with National Executive Council

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John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management stopped by AFGE national headquarters this afternoon and addressed several concerns by district and union leaders about fairness towards employees, insubordination, and the looming “fiscal cliff”. The National Executive Council meeting was led by AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr. who kept Berry focused on answering lingering concerns by employees that have yet to be adequately addressed. Several newly elected district leaders were also present at the meeting and offered a passionate call to action to both OPM and the Obama Administration as it moves into it’s second term.

With the “fiscal cliff” less than a month away and over $100 million dollars in the legally mandated sequester scheduled to kick in on January 2, 2013, the first priority at the NEC meeting was clear. Berry suggested the issue will be best resolved with the 2014 federal budget as government agencies across the board work out the best possible plan that works for management, employees, and the American people themselves. However, budget talks have been tabled as Congress hashes out a deal. The Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense (in which, half of the planned cuts are to come) are the key players within the government deciding the impact of the sequester, but Berry announced that the ball is really in Congress’ court.

“It’s important to remember that first and foremost a deal is possible; I don’t think we have to worry about this,” said Berry. If a decision is not reached before Christmas or the January deadline, all agencies must submit their plan of action to Congress by the end of January. Reiterating that the sequester is not the same as a government shutdown, Berry suggested that lawmakers will have until the end of that month to come up with an alternative deal.

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“You always have an open door with me,” said Berry at the meeting. President Cox explained, “We want full MSB rights for our members of the TSA.” When asked if he could guarantee that could happen he remarked “a big part of today is, I’m here to listen”, causing a brief chuckle from the members. “Where’s my pen?”, said Berry. With the heads of several locals present, they addressed MSB rights and ULPs.

“We need someone to hold managers accountable as it’s a wasting of taxpayer money if we file ULPs but agencies keep doing same thing,” said National Vice President Arnold R. Scott of District 6.

Berry pledged to address this as well as concerns that President Barack Obama’s executive orders are not being adequately being followed, especially in regards to political appointees attaining longer and permanent positions. Berry reiterated the president’s commitment to his executive orders and said the agency is moving from a reactionary stance on the matter to one that outsmarts the offenders.

“We don’t just send letters, we meet with them at the White House and layout what changes we expect from them,” said Berry. “This has worked in most cases.”

Berry, one of the President’s first openly-gay political appointees, was also questioned over the sharing of benefits between same-sex and domestic partnerships. The OPM Director said that he and President Obama strongly support the idea, but admitted that they are constrained by Congress until there is a change to the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I have a partner who pays 100%  into (his health insurance) and we’ve been together for 16 years and he’s not going anywhere,” Berry said. “I get this issue and I hear about this every night.”

Pressing further, one representative asked, “So for Christmas 2013 then.” Berry, replied “Yes, I hope so.”

As the administration moves into it’s second term there are many changes expected not only in agency leadership, but in how the government is run internally. With a recent report by OPM showing severe declines in morale amongst federal employees across the board, change is urgently needed.

“Let’s wait until the new team is in place before we act,” said Berry. “I would hate to have the ink still wet from a really good deal, before a new team comes in and you have to start from scratch.”

One local president from West Point, countered, keeping Berry and OPM’s feet to the fire.

“Gone are the days of union activists and obstructionists; I think we can do this by sitting down and hashing this out if we’re allowed to,” he said. “But it’s getting pretty darn frustrating.”

You can find more photo’s of today’s meeting on our AFGE Photostream on flickr.

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