Friday, July 20, 2012

AFGE Week in Review - July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012
President Gage Receives Highest Award for Public Service: AFGE President John Gage on Wednesday received the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest award for public service, from the Office of Personnel Management. OPM Director John Berry presented the award, a bust of civil service patriarch Roosevelt, at the monthly meeting of the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations.
President Gage has served as AFGE national president since 2003. Under his leadership, AFGE defeated two highly controversial personnel systems – the NSPS at the Defense Department and MaxHR at Homeland Security. The union last year won the right for TSA employees to collectively bargain for better workplace protections.
AFGE Successfully Blocks Measure to Outsource DoD Jobs without Competition: AFGE Wednesday night won a major vote against a measure on the House floor that would have allowed the Department of Defense to outsource civilian jobs without a cost comparison.  Rep.Justin Amash of Michigan offered an amendment to strike Section 8039 of the fiscal 2013 Defense Appropriations bill which prevents DoD from giving work performed by civilian personnel to contractors without first conducting a formal cost comparison process. If the Amash Amendment was approved, a significant prohibition against DoD privatizing whenever it wants would have been eliminated. Amash lost 186-233. Last year his amendment passed the House 212-208, but the Senate forced the amendment to be dropped in conference.

DEFCON Local Presidents to Brainstorm to Fight 20,000-40,000 Jobs Cuts: AFGE DEFCON Local presidents will be on a conference call next Thursday, July 26, to discuss ways to fight back the upcoming 20,000-40,000 civilian jobs cuts in the Defense Department. Lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to include a provision in the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act that would arbitrarily require DoD to slash its civilian workforce by 5% —anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 jobs—by 2017. DoD has already imposed harsh civilian personnel controls which are causing work federal employees perform to be contracted out without any cost comparisons and preventing civilians from taking work back from contractors—even when federal employees are cheaper or the work is inherently governmental. The last thing the Congress should do is to impose additional arbitrary cuts. If anti-federal employee politicians are successful, then they will come with far more massive cuts in federal employees—not just in DoD, but in all agencies. 
Right-Wing House Lawmakers Launch War on Workers, Women, Children: In a 2013 spending billfor Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor departments, right-wing House lawmakers are once again targeting for cuts programs that are vital to women, children and American workers. They also included in the bill several measures driven by their political ideology that will have real world consequences on real people. The bill, for example, would defund the new health care law, effectively denying health insurance to 30 million uninsured Americans. They ignored the fact that a bipartisan congressional office’s report finding that repealing the health care law would increase the deficit.
House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Norm Dicks said the bill “is the most partisan we’ve seen this year” and the subcommittee chair “made no effort to work with our side of the aisle to accommodate any of our concerns.”
Based on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Path to Poverty budget proposal, the 2013 Labor-HHS, Education bill eliminates Title X Family Planning, which, since 1970, has helped women with low income gain access to non-abortion family planning and preventive health services, such as pregnancy diagnosis, breast and pelvic cancer screening, sexual transmitted disease prevention and testing. The bill cuts funding for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by $409 million and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by $787 million. It eliminates funding for three education reform programs that helps improve the nation’s lowest performing schools – Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and School Improvement Grants. Numerous other K-12 education programs are also targeted for elimination. The bill also cuts funding for the International Labor Affairs Bureau, which monitors child labor practices, by 68%. The bureau would get $30 million, which is $62 million less than this year and the lowest level of funding since 1998. The bill also targets the National Labor Relations Board, which investigates unfair labor practices. The bill would take away funding for the NLRB by $20 million, weakening the board’s ability to fight unfair labor practices.

@Rosa DeLauro: “Labor-H-Ed bill is reckless, irresponsible. Even Reagan admin wouldn't have done this. Doesn't meet needs of US ppl”

Norquist v. Coburn: Anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist insistedthe Church of Norquist is not losing members when Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma blasted him in a New York Times op-ed that right-wing lawmakers have already violated the Norquist pledge and would be willing to raise taxes as part of a grand bargain to fix the deficit. Coburn wrote that all but six of the 41 Senate right-wing lawmakers supported an amendment ending an ethanol tax break last year that did not have a corresponding tax reduction. But Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, called what Coburn wrote a lie.
“When Coburn stands up and says, 'I want to raise taxes,' he stands alone,” Norquist said.
Nearly all right-wing lawmakers in the House and Senate have signed the Norquist pledge. But after the budget standoff last year that almost shut down the federal government and drive America to the brink of fiscal ruin, many have voiced concerns and more right-wing candidates running for open seats have refused to sign the pledge.  Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also blastedthe pledge, saying it asks politicians to “outsource your principles and convictions”.

This Week’s Scam: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest operator of for-profit prisons, has made an offer to 48 financially struggling states to buy and manage existing state prisons as part of its $250 million plan. States will get fresh cash fast, but the company wants a 20-year contract with a guarantee that the prisons are at least 90% full. In other words, states will have to round up enough criminals in order to keep CCA profitable. CCA Chief Corrections Officer Harley Lappin, who wrote to the governors to get them to go along with this scam, was a former director of the Bureau of Prisons until 2011. So far, no states have taken the bait.

This Week’s Spinners-in-Chief: Right-wing lawmakers, backed by rich Defense contractors, dread Defense budget cuts, arguing repeatedly that the cuts would mean job losses and an economic disaster. But they’re not supposed to believe that government spending creates jobs, are they? Think Progress catalogues flip-flopping statements made by right-wing lawmakers who are set to speak against deep Defense cuts at an event next week. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is one of the speakers:
Now: “The whole point here [staving off the sequester] is to try to get some economic growth, job creation, to get out of this recession.” [5/24/12]
Then: “Faced with the reality of historic unemployment rates and record federal debt, I had hoped that President Obama, by now, would understand that even more government spending doesn’t create jobs.” [9/09/11]
This Week in Labor History: July 19, 1940 - An amendment to the 1939 Hatch Act, a federal law whose main provision prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, is amended to also cover state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds.
Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” to learn about a new Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy that will arm federal correctional officers with pepper spray. The show, which originally aired on Friday, July 13, is now available on demand. AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Dale Deshotel detailed the new BOP pilot program that will allow correctional officers in seven facilities to carry pepper spray, a move AFGE has supported for years. But first, Betsy Myers, former Clinton White House senior advisor and chief operating officer for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, discussed her book, “Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You.” Myers, now the founding director of Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business, shed light on her seven core leadership principles to increase productivity and success. Lastly, AFGE VA Local 1988 Executive Vice President Geddes Scott provided an inside look at the union’s Young Organizing Unionists for the Next Generation (Y.O.U.N.G.) program and encouraged all AFGE members to participate in the program.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at
Quote of the Week
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington on a plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire Jan.1 to side-step Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge:
“Many [right-wing lawmakers] are starting to realize something important: On Jan. 1, if we haven’t gotten to a deal, Grover Norquist and his pledge are no longer relevant to this conversation. We will have a new fiscal and political reality.”

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO 80 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 | Tel. (202) 737-8700 | Fax (202) 639-6492

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