The informational blog for Michael Meserve, Vice President, Western Region, Council of Prison Locals
Friday, September 7, 2012
AFGE Week in Review - Sept. 7, 2012
Sept. 7, 2012
Bill to Defeat McCain Cuts to Be Introduced:AFGE is urging our Locals to reach out to their senators for co-sponsorship of a bill that would reverse the proposed arbitrary cut of 18,000-36,000 civilian positions at the Defense Department. The bill, to be introduced by Sen.Ben Cardinof Maryland, would reaffirm the law that prohibits DoD from subjecting the civilian workforce to arbitrary caps and cuts. It would ensure that the civilian workforce is sufficiently sized after taking into account military strategy requirements and military end-strength. The Government Accountability Office would be required to report back to the Congress whether the department is compliant with the law. “Downsizing should be based on workload analysis—determining which functions should no longer be performed,” AFGE National PresidentJ. David Cox Sr.said. “When the Department reduces the civilian workforce without reducing its workload, the work those civilian employees had performed is simply privatized, regardless of cost or whether it is inherently governmental.” The cut was proposed by Sen.John McCainof Arizona in the Senate version of the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization Act, S. 3254. This is on top of the 10,517 positions DoD is already implementing in fiscal 2012 alone. AFGE hopes that if enough co-sponsors sign on to the Cardin bill, McCain's amendment could be struck down when the authorization bill comes up for a final vote if we can’t offer an amendment, or it could be dropped during negotiations with the House, which did not include a similar measure in its version of the bill. If the senators the Locals are reaching out to were one of 26 senators who signed on to the Brown-Gillibrand Letter to Secretary Panetta, co-sponsoring the Cardin bill should be an easy slam-dunk. For senators who may be hesitant to sign, the following are what the Cardin bill wouldn’t do: It would not prevent DoD from downsizing the civilian workforce, and it would not treat service contractors any differently than civilian employees. Under the McCain measure, service contractors are, nominally, subject to the same arbitrary cut as civilian employees. This bill, consistent with the law, would declare that neither the civilian workforce nor the contractor workforce should be subject to arbitrary cuts. AFGE’sJohn Threlkeld(firstname.lastname@example.org) is the contact on the issue.
GSA Assigns 10 More Cities as Non-Standard Per Diem Areas:Federal employees traveling to the following 10 cities will receive unique per diem rates as the cities recently have beendesignatedas “non-standard” areas for travel reimbursement rates by the General Services Administration:
Bakersfield/Ridgecrest, California Stockton, California Hancock and Pearl River Counties, Mississippi Sidney/Glendive, Montana Dickinson/Beulah, North Dakota Minot, North Dakota Williston, North Dakota Carlsbad, New Mexico Watertown, New York Pasco, Washington
Most of the continental United States (about 2600 counties) are covered by the standard CONUS per diem rate of $123 ($77 lodging, $46 meals and incidental expenses). About 400 non-standard areas have per diem rates higher than the standard CONUS rate. Clickhereto see what the rates are in your area. OPM Makes Progress on Retirement Application Backlog:The Office of Personnel Management continued to make progress on the retirement claims backlog, processing more claims than it received every month since January. According to OPM’snew figures, the claims inventory stood at 61,108 in January and went down to 41,787 in August. More people also submitted retirement claims in August than any other month except for January.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Gets Labor Day Exactly Wrong:Everybody knows why we celebrate Labor Day. We know it’s to recognize workers and the labor movement that brought us weekends, minimum wage, eight-hour work day, etc. But Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia must have got it mixed up with Lehman Brothers’ or AIG’s birthday or something when hetweeted“Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” HISCO Invites You to Attend the 4th Annual 2012 HISCO Conference:AFGE’s Latino advocacy group HISCO is holding the 4th Annual 2012 HISCO Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Oct. 2-6 to celebrate and honor the founders and to continue the plan to ensure that HISCO continues to grow and prosper. This year’s conference workshops and plenaries are designed to build local leadership skills and to provide activists with the tools they will need to be effective AFGE union representatives. The 2012 Adelante Awards will honor the original Hispanic Coalition founders. This group of AFGE pioneers dared to dream that an AFGE Latino advocacy group could be established and succeed to represent the needs and issues of the largest minority group in the U.S. A session to work on strategy for building HISCO will meet to assist with the plan for the 2013 HISCO Conference to be held in Los Angeles and discuss the future of HISCO.
The keynote speakers will be the newly elected AFGE National President, National Secretary Treasurer, and National Vice President for the Women’s and Fair Practices, all of whom have been invited. There will be mini workshops with speakers from the AFGE National and local AFL/CIO Labor 2012 coordinators. We will work with the Northern New Mexico CLC assisting with their labor walk, phone bank and literature drops in Santa Fe. The world famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta starts on Saturday October 6, 2012. If you plan to attend you will be provided with information at registration.
AFGE at the Nationals Ballpark:On Thursday, Aug. 30, National PresidentJ.David Coxand National Vice President for Women’s and Fair PracticesAugusta Thomaswere on hand to celebrate with other Federal Employee and Education Assistance Fund representatives during a GEICO check awarding ceremony at Nationals Ballpark in Washington, D.C. FEEA, which provides disaster relief grants, emergency assistant funds, scholarships, childcare subsidies, and administers AFGE’s JNS Family Scholarships, received a generous donation from GEICO in the amount of $30,000. This donation will assist FEEA in their efforts to continue to provide assistance to civilian federal and postal employees. Visit FEEA’s website atwww.feea.orgto find out more about the organization and ways you can help them help other federal workers. John N. Sturdivant Scholarships Winners Announced:Congratulations to the25 AFGE memberswho have received the 2012 John N. Sturdivant (JNS) Family Scholarships. Twenty five scholarships of $2000 each are awarded annually to AFGE members and/or their dependents enrolled in an accredited institution or in a course of study leading to a 2-year, 4-year, or graduate degree. The JNS Family Scholarships are administered by the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA). Click here if you want to apply for next year’s scholarships. This Week’s Op-Ed: In “Private-Market Tooth Fairy Can’t Cut Medicare Cost”, Bloomberg View columnistPeter Orzag arguesthat turning Medicare into a voucher program in full or in part will only drive up costs. “The vast bulk of health-care costs arise from an extremely small share of patients, whose insurance will inevitably bear a substantial share of their expenses. That’s why competition in health care doesn’t work as well as in other sectors, and it’s also why the key to keeping costs to a minimum is to encourage providers to offer better, less costly care in complex cases. Unfortunately, proponents of moving Medicare to a private “consumer-driven” system… seem to instead believe in a health-care competition tooth fairy -- that if we just increase the patient’s share of costs and bolster competition among insurance companies, the expense will come down.” Orzag is vice chairman of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup and former Office of Management and Budget director under the Obama administration. This Week in Labor History:Sept. 5, 1882- 20,000 to 30,000 marchers participate in New York's first Labor Day parade, demanding the eight-hour day.
This Week’s Tweet:“Some people fact-check in the same way that hockey players body-check” ~@TheTweetOfGod Inside Government:Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” to learn more about the federal pay freeze extension. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Aug. 24, is now available on demand. AFGE National PresidentJ. David Coxand Public Policy DirectorJacque Simondenounced President Obama’s decision to extend the pay freeze of federal workers until Congress passes a new budget. Cox discussed the union’s next steps while Simon analyzed the financial impact a continuing freeze will have on federal employees. AFL-CIO Executive Vice PresidentArlene Holt Bakerand AFGE Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Local 556 President Don Thomas then participated in a special broadcast from AFGE’s recent national convention. Holt Baker discussed efforts to end voter suppression and Thomas highlighted the union’s labor contract with TSA.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com.
Quote of the Week:
Rep.Chris Van Hollenon debt:
“If [they were] being honest, [they] would have pointed to that debt clock and said: 'We built that.'”