Friday, October 5, 2012

Oct. 5, 2012

FLRA Upholds AFGE Win against Broadcasting Board of Governors: The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has upheld an arbitrator’s ruling in a case brought by AFGE that found the Broadcasting Board of Governors' Office of Cuba Broadcasting illegally used a reduction in force action to fire union activists and other employees who had been outspoken critics of the agency. The BBG had appealed the arbitrator’s ruling, but the FLRA rejected every argument made by the agency in its Sept. 25 decision.

“This decision should put every agency on notice that they cannot use budget shortfalls or funding cuts as an excuse to go after specific federal workers who the agency doesn’t like,” said AFGE Associate General Counsel Leisha Self, who represented the AFGE Local 1812 members in their grievance.

In a November 2011 decision, an arbitrator ruled that former Office of Cuba Broadcasting Director Pedro Roig had ordered the RIF and conducted it in such a way to target employees who had spoken out to Government Accountability Office investigators. The arbitrator discounted agency claims that the RIF was necessary because of budget shortfalls and lack of work, finding compelling evidence that Roig rejected attempts to explore cost savings in other areas before implementing a RIF. The agency also refused the union’s demand to bargain over the impact of the RIF as required under the negotiated labor-management agreement. The FLRA’s decision clears the way for the 16 employees who were separated or otherwise affected during the RIF to be reinstated without loss of seniority or benefits, although BBG can appeal the FLRA’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

AFGE Mourns Death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie: AFGE today expressed sadness over the Oct. 2 killing of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie, who was killed in an ambush after responding to a sensor hit near Highway 80 in Arizona. One other Border Patrol agent sustained non-life threatening wounds and was airlifted to a local hospital and is reported in stable condition.

“We were deeply saddened over the death of Agent Ivie,” AFGE National President J. David Cox said. “AFGE offers its sympathies to the Ivie family.”

Agent Ivie, 30, began his career with the U.S. Border Patrol in 2008 as a member of the 733rd session. After graduating from the Academy, he was assigned to the Naco Border Patrol Station, which was recently renamed after Agent Brian Terry. Ivie is survived by his wife and children.

“The National Border Patrol Council expresses condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Agent Ivie as they mourn his passing,” said Council President George McCubbin. “Please keep the Ivie family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

For more information, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page or call George McCubbin at (855) BP UNION, ext. 800 (855-278-6466, x800).

House Passes Whistleblower Protection Bill: The House of Representatives last week passed an AFGE-backed bill that would better protect federal employees who expose mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse on the job. Among the many improvements included in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, S. 743, are expansions to current laws that protect additional disclosures of wrongdoing, provide statutory whistleblower protections to more than 45,000 Transportation Security Officers, allow more federal courts to hear appeals of whistleblower cases, protect workers against retaliatory investigations when they disclose workplace wrongdoing, and creates the position of whistleblower ombudsman in agency Offices of Inspector General to educate federal workers and managers about whistleblower protections.

AFGE was a pioneer in advancing protections for federal employee whistleblowers and brought the first case under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) in 1979. The work of AFGE and a nationwide coalition of worker advocates, civil rights, taxpayer and good government groups has resulted in the House passage of S. 743, a bill that corrects narrow judicial interpretation and agency rules that made it virtually impossible for federal workers to prevail under the WPA. Passage of this bill was made possible by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Chis Van Hollen (Md.) and Todd Platts (Pa.), House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (Md.).

The Senate must pass the bill, which has garnered bipartisan support, once it reconvenes after the November elections. AFGE will continue its work with federal worker whistleblower advocates and a bipartisan group of supporters in the Senate, including Sens. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Susan Collins(Maine), Charles Grassley (Iowa) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.) to ensure S. 743 becomes law before the end of the year.

SSA Field Offices to Close 30 Minutes Early: All of Social Security Administration’s 1,233 field offices will close to customers 30 minutes earlier starting Nov. 19. Starting Jan. 2, the offices will close at noon on Wednesdays.

AFGE SSA Council 220 President Witold Skwierczynski said the reductions in office hours is part of SSA’s plans to replace face-to-face contact between SSA employees and the public with telephone and the Internet. SSA has closed or will close 27 offices this year on top of the 20 that were shut down last year.

New Study Shows Number of Regulations Issued by the White House Is Similar to Previous Administrations: A claim that the White House issued a tsunami of new regulations that hurt businesses has been debunked, again. In a new report titled The Regulatory Tsunami That Wasn’t, the non-profit OMB Watch pored over reams of data comparing regulations issued by different administrations and found little difference between the current and past administrations in their overall level of regulatory activity. The number of rules hovered around 250-350 annually during the Clinton and Bush administrations while 276-316 rules were issued during the current administration. This is contrary to false claims by businesses and their allies in Congress that the current administration has burdened them with regulations, prompting them to block and delay certain rules. They obviously ignored the fact that in 1992 alone, the George H.W. Bush administration issued 1,200 rules.

But OMB Watch found there has been an increase in “significant rules” (that cost over $100 million to implement) under the current administration – 55-70 v. 32-70, but that has been a result of statutory and judicial deadlines and regulatory actions left uncompleted by prior administrations. For example, the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to control emissions that cause air pollution and issue regulations for pollutants if it finds that air pollution endangers public health. In 1999, environmental groups petitioned EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming. The Bush administration in 2003 refused to issue a finding that greenhouse gases endangered public health. The Supreme Court overruled that decision in 2007. The case was sent back to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which set a deadline for EPA to issue a finding to determine whether greenhouse gases endangered public health. In 2009, the current administration issued the finding that the emissions harmed public health. Greenhouse gases rule is not the only regulation finalized by the current administration but initiated during earlier administrations. According to Congressional Research Service, the current administration inherited many rules from the Bush administration. A National Journal article also suggested the administration had “a stack of court order environmental regulations, some dating back 20 years” waiting at EPA.

“Some of the increase in significant rules is probably explained by inflation [as the $100 million threshold has not been adjusted for inflation since 1978. Adjusting for inflation, the current threshold should be $350 million annually],” wrote OMB Watch analysts Randy Rabinowitz and Matt La Tronica. “Moreover, our analysis shows that a large number of economically significant rules were required by statutory and judicial deadlines in the [current] administration than was the case in previous administration.”

A New Attempt to Distort Science by the House Science Committee: As the White House has not actually issued more regulations than previous administrations and a large number of major EPA rules were required by statutory and judicial deadlines, it is even more absurd and ridiculous that some lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would stop new regulations by replacing the EPA scientists who make recommendations on regulations. The bill would require the EPA to deform its Science Advisory Board as it doesn’t have polluters sitting on the board’s scientific advisory panels to skew the data. The lead sponsor of the bill is no other than chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Ralph Hall of Texas. Hall and his colleagues are global warming deniers who firmly believe EPA’s efforts to protect clean air and water hurt polluters and their bottom line.

"The need for high-quality, independent scientific advice from the Science Advisory Board has never been more important, as [the administration]'s EPA pursues sweeping new regulations based on controversial scientific assertions and conclusions,” Hall said.

Middle-Class Families to Face $2,000 Tax Hike If Lawmakers Continue to Protect Tax Breaks for the Rich: If some lawmakers still insist on protecting tax breaks for the wealthy and Congress can’t agree on a deficit reduction plan, 90 percent of Americans would see their tax go up at the end of the year and government spending would drop sharply, according to new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Middle-class families would see an average tax increase of almost $2,000 a year if we go over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The 2 percentage point cut in payroll tax rate would lapse, raising taxes on more than 120 million households with workers. Sequestration – the across the board cuts to government programs and services – and tax hikes on all income levels would take effect at the end of the year if some lawmakers continue to reject the administration’s proposal to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy 2 percent expire while keeping tax breaks for the middle-class and the poor. These lawmakers continue to claim that giving tax breaks to the rich would create jobs even though data suggests otherwise. But middle-class Americans are not the only group that would be affected by the gridlock caused by the protectors of the rich and powerful. Families with low incomes would be hard hit by the expiration of tax credits expanded or created by the 2009 stimulus.

This Week in Labor History: Oct. 1, 1940 - The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened as the first toll superhighway in the United States. It was built in most part by workers hired through the state’s Re-Employment offices.

Hot on WWW: The power of Kawaii (cute). A Japanese study shows looking at pictures of baby animals help boost productivity.

Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for a special congressional roundtable on the state of middle class America and the public service sector. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Sept. 28, is now available on demand. The roundtable discussion featured Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Reps. Brad Miller of North Carolina, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Judy Chu of California, who analyzed issues facing the middle class and what’s needed to revive the economy. The discussion also addressed the need for a strong public service sector. Former White House communications adviser Corey Ealons, now a senior vice president with VOX Global, also discussed voter protection efforts leading up to Election Day.

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

Quote of the Week 

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall on the need to replace the scientists who protect clean air and water:

"The need for high-quality, independent scientific advice from the Science Advisory Board has never been more important, as President Obama's EPA pursues sweeping new regulations based on controversial scientific assertions and conclusions.”

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

Click here to subscribe
Click here to unsubscribe

No comments:

Post a Comment