The informational blog for Michael Meserve, Vice President, Western Region, Council of Prison Locals
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
AFGE Week in Review - June 22, 2012
June 22, 2012
Indiana Governor Says Public-Sector Unions Shouldn’t Exist:Anti-worker Indiana GovernorMitch DanielstoldFox News lastweekthat public-sector unions should disappear entirely. "I think government works better without them, I really do," Daniels told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. "There's a reason that defenders of labor ... always said that unionism had no placeinthe public sector, that it was necessary freedom, and it is,inthe private sector. But that it was a bad ideaingovernment," he added. Upon taking officein2005, Danielssignedan executive order eliminating collective bargaining rights for government employees. This led to lower salaries, pay freezesinsome years, and outsourcing of government operations to private companies. Health insurance premiums for many went up nearly 200%. Workers who had 20-30 years on the job with higher pay were fired. One union local saw their membership vanish from 260 to 12 as workers were scared that management would know they paid union dues. Daniels himself said after he banned collective bargaining, union membership for state workers dropped by 90 percent. Earlier this year hesigneda law making Indiana the right-to-work-for-less state. Before becoming governor, Daniels led the Bush fiscal policy as director of the Office of Management and Budget under the Bush administration. Instead of using the Clinton surplus to pay off the national debt that he claims worries him so much today, he purposely created the massive deficits and drastically added to the national debt by irresponsibly giving tax cuts – not paying for two wars and not paying the Medicare drug program. His deregulation push helped to undermine oversight of Wall St. banks, which we know created the financial collapse. He is one of the key architects of our recession, massive deficits and debt. Then he goes to Indiana where he blames public employees and unions for the economic mess he helped create. If he were being honest, he would have blamed himself. He is typical of the duplicity of the right wing that is trying to divide the middle class to hide their agenda. Today the media reports he was just rewarded for his duplicity and divisive tactics by being named as the President of Purdue University. As head of OMB, which oversees the federal government’s sourcing policy, Daniels also pushed toreviewalmost one million jobs for privatization under an OMB Circular A-76 process that he re-wrote to favor contractors. He also pushed for direct conversions and strongly opposed any insourcing. Before his stint at OMB, Daniels was senior vice president of Indiana's largest corporation – pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, whichin2009 wasorderedto pay $1.4 billion to settle criminal and civil allegations after pleading guilty to promoting its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Another anti-worker governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin took a page from Daniels when he pushed a law to strip government workers of their collective bargaining rights.Infact, WalkersaidDaniels was his “model.” McCain’s MeasureinSenate Bill Calls for Elimination of up to 37,000 Defense Civilian Jobs:Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking MemberJohn McCainof Arizona has included a measure (Section 341)inthe Senate’s version of the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization that would cut funding for Defense civilians by 5% and eliminate 18,000-37,000 jobs by 2017. This doesn’t prevent the Defense Department from cutting jobs on its own —indeed, the department plans to cut 11,000 civilian jobsinthis fiscal year. The arbitrary cuts would mean that most of the work will go to service contractors, which cost taxpayers nearly twice as much as federal employees, according to the Project on Government Oversight. McCain’s proposed cuts are based on DoD’s anticipated reductionsinmilitary end-strength, which have little or nothing to do with civilian personnel levels as much of the need for civilians is for workinacquisition and cyber-security. Even though the measure also calls for spending cuts to service contracts by the same amount, this will not happen because DoD has strongly resisted earlier attempts to cut service contracts and has understated actual service contract spending by billions of dollars. The fact that DoD doesn’t have a service contract inventory only makes things worse. “The civilian workforce should be managed by budgets and workloads,” AFGE PresidentJohn Gagesaid. “If there is work to do and money to pay for that work, then performance decisions should be based on the merits. It’s foolish to prevent managers from using civilian employees just because they are civilian employees.” AFGE supports the House version of the bill, which reminds DoD to look holistically at its military, civilian, and contractor workforces for savings. Any personnel reductions should also be based on workload analyses and reviews of the inventory of service contracts. DoD’s plan and personnel reductions should be assessed independently by the Government Accountability Office, not arbitrary actions of Congress. AFGE’s Protest Leads to Army Cancelling Direct Conversion:Ft. Carson is cancelling its plan to convert a congressional inquiries civilian position to a military position after AFGE PresidentJohn Gageforwarded to Army SecretaryJohn McHugha letter from AFGE Local 1345 PresidentPeter Steeledemanding an explanation over the direct conversions at the installation. Mr. Steele, who received a phone call from the deputy garrison commander about the cancellation, said without AFGE’s intervention, the Army would have gone ahead with its plan. Ft. Carson is one of the installations that were inappropriately converting civilian positions to military performanceinresponse to the Defense Department’s so-called Efficiency Initiative” that arbitrarily caps the civilian workforce at fiscal 2010 levels. AFGE condemns these arbitrary cuts as the department will be forced to hire expensive contractors or convert the positions to military personnel, which is historically more expensive than hiring civilians. AFGE is asking our Locals to contact the National Office if your installation is experiencing direct conversions to either contractor or military performance. Senate Spending Bill Includes AFGE-Backed Measures to Ban A-76, Personnel Ceilings Governmentwide:Several AFGE-backed provisions have been includedinthe Senate Financial Services Appropriations bill that covers all agencies. Thanks to the leadership of Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee ChairmanRichard Durbinof Illinois and Sen.Barbara Mikulskiof Maryland, the bill includes provisions that would ban A-76 outsourcing studies and the use ofin-house personnel ceilings. The bill also directs the Office of Management and Budget to finally issue guidance to prevent agencies from perpetrating direct conversions, something OMB promised AFGE it would do earlier this year. It would require that positions closely associated with inherently governmental functions be performed by federal employees to the maximum extent practicable, which is already the caseinthe Department of Defense.Inaddition, there is a government-wide provision which caps compensation for contractors at $400K with exceptions for scientists and engineers. The House version of the bill doesn’t have these provisions. But AFGE will work with the conferees during the House-Senate conference, which will likely take place after the November elections, to retain the A-76 prohibition for the fifth consecutive year. NST Cox Appointed Chair of AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council:The AFL-CIO thisweeknamed AFGE National Secretary-TreasurerJ.David Coxchair of the organization’s Union Veterans Council. The Council is comprised of labor leaders and union activists working togetherinsupport of veterans’ issues with the goal of influencing public policy that will improve the quality of life for America’s veterans and their families. NST Cox previously served as vice co-chair of the Council, which continues to push for the expansion of VA health care access to rural and female veterans, as well as, increased measures to treat the unseen wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. “The care of our nation’s veterans is of utmost importance to me. They have sacrificed so much to this country. It is my honor to be an advocate for the care they receive within the VA, ensure our elected officials keep up their end of the bargain and provide our heroes with the support they deserve,” NST Cox said. NST Cox has a long historyinserving our nation’s heroes. He began his public service career as a registered nurse at the Department of Veterans Affairs and servedinthat post for more than 20 years. During that time, he became a leader at his local union, AFGE Local 1738 covering North Carolina VA facilitiesinSalisbury, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Fayetteville and Durham. As an advocate for workers’ rights and veterans’ issues, he moved on to serve as the first executive vice president of AFGE’s National VA Council.In2006 and 2009, he was elected as AFGE’s national-secretary treasurer where he continues his work as a champion for veterans and the fair and equitable treatment of employees on the job. FLRA Appoints Regional Attorneys for Chicago, Denver:The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) thisweekannounced the appointment ofSandra LeBoldas Regional Attorney of the Chicago Regional Office andTimothy Sullivanas Regional Attorney of the Denver Regional Office. ThisWeekinLabor History:June 9, 1912 - Congress extended the 8-hour day to all federal employees. They previously labored 10 hours a day.
Inside Government:Tuneinnow to AFGE’s “Inside Government” to hear Rep.Gerry Connolly(Va.) discuss the value of public service. The show, which originally aired on Friday, June 15, is now available on demand. Connolly, speaking from the recent ExcellenceinGovernment Conference, addressed the important work of federal employees and value of public service to the country. Also appearing from the conference were Hooks Book Events PresidentPerry HooksandSteve Shapiro, author of “Best Practices are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition.” But first, OurFuture.org Executive EditorIsaiah J. Poolepreviewed the upcoming Take Back the American Dream Conference June 18 – 20. Poole discussed the need for employees to have a voiceinthe workplace and also addressed key issues ahead of the 2012 elections including job creation, women’s rights and restoring the middle class. Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFEDinthe D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com. Quote of theWeek: AFGE PresidentJohn Gageon Sen.John McCain’s measure that would cut funding for Defense civilians by 5% and eliminate 18,000-37,000 jobs by 2017. “The civilian workforce should be managed by budgets and workloads. If there is work to do and money to pay for that work, then performance decisions should be based on the merits. It’s foolish to prevent managers from using civilian employees just because they are civilian employees.”