Monday, March 18, 2013

AFGE Week in Review - March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

AFGE Members Save 15% off AT&T Wireless Service: When you join AFGE, you have access to a large number of member benefits backed by the collective strength of over 10-million members of AFL-CIO unions. By using one or two of the programs, many members save as much as they pay for annual dues. With the Union Plus AT&T Wireless Discount, labor union members save 15% off the regular monthly rate for individual and family wireless cell phone plans on the nation’s largest wireless network. AFGE members also receive additional savings on cell phones and accessories like ear buds for hands-free talking. AFGE families typically save $71.88 a year with the Union Plus AT&T Wireless Discount based on a 15% savings on a $39.99 plan. Higher minute plans save even more.
Click here for more details.

For Many Federal Employees, Sequestration Means Life and Death: For many in Congress, starving the government is merely a chance to score political points from their extreme base, but for federal employees, sequestration could mean life and death. This is especially true for those protecting the borders and securing federal prisons. Even before sequestration hit, these agencies have been so understaffed and underfunded that their “offices” have become extremely dangerous. Yet these corporate-backed lawmakers continue to turn a deaf ear or even engage in misinformation campaign to cut their pay and benefits.
“Overpaid? Tell that to the border patrol agents who just spent 12 hours tracking drug smugglers on foot,” said Shawn Moran, AFGE National Border Patrol Council vice president at large.
“This is not a game. This is real,” said AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Dale Deshotel. “In the last month, we lost three correctional officers to violence. One officer in Pennsylvania was killed by an inmate in a housing unit. And his murder was followed a few days later by a suicide of a fellow guard who felt that he could have done more to protect his colleague. Another officer was shot in Puerto Rico in a work-related crime. We are going in the wrong direction. This is no way to run the government, no way to serve the American taxpayers, no way to protect public safety and no way to treat federal law enforcement officers.”

Moran and Deshotel were speaking at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to detail the devastating impact of sequestration on national security and the safety of the American public. Joining them were AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr., National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi, AFGE Defense Logistics Agency Council Executive Vice President Robin Nichols, AFGE Transportation Security Administration Council Region 1 Vice President Stacy Bodtmann, AFGE Food Safety and Inspection Service Local 2422 President Alfreda Dennis-Bowyer, and AFGE National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals 3rd Vice President Steve Kofahl

Sequestration Cuts Are Reserved for Feds, Not Contractors: It is increasingly evident that agencies are disproportionally targeting federal employees and not contractors as a source of savings generators under sequestration. At our press conference on the impact of sequestration on Wednesday, our members talked about how agencies, the Defense Department to be specific, rushed to renew contracts before sequestration hit. This is on top of a recent report that shows that the Army plans to furlough nine federal employees for every contractor. At the Bureau of Prisons, our members report that they haven’t seen cuts in expensive contract prisons. Instead, all the cuts are concentrated on staff and internal operations. As a result, BOP’s plan to open five new prisons with 8,000 beds will be put on hold indefinitely, endangering staff and those in the communities as these new facilities were meant to relieve some of the overcrowding problems.

Managers have been misled by contractors that agencies would have to pay hefty fees if they ever cancel new work or make changes to the existing contracts. AFGE Locals and Councils are encouraged to reach out to management and offer solutions allowed under the law. Click here for details.

AFGE to Hold Nearly 100 Rallies Across the Country March 20: Federal employees are planning to hold nearly 100 rallies across the country on March 20 to protest the reckless budget cuts. As part of a mass demonstration organized by AFGE, the events will take place outside federal agencies and lawmakers’ offices to highlight the work performed by federal employees at military bases, Social Security offices, federal prisons and thousands of other locations.

“Our message is very clear: sequestration has got to go,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “If federal employees are furloughed without pay, if offices and plants are shut down, if vacancies aren’t filled because of these across-the-board budget cuts, then federal employees won’t be able to do the work that the American public expects them to do.”

Senate Bill Would Cancel Sequestration: Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington this week introduced a bill that would replace reckless sequestration with more targeted cuts. Her plan would raise $975 billion in new revenue over the next ten years by ending tax breaks for the rich and big corporations. It protects Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. It rejects efforts to make cuts that harm seniors and the most vulnerable families. It invests in national defense, homeland security, and law enforcement.

Senate Rejects Latest Effort to Single Out Federal Employees for Punishment: The Senate this week voted down an anti-federal employee amendment to a spending bill, H.R. 933, which would have prevented all federal agencies from hiring federal employees who perform “non-essential” functions -- the definition of which is poorly defined but tends to be biased against the lower-level employees. The measure, offered by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, would have prevented new hires but imposed no constraints on the $300 billion agencies spend every year on service contracts. Most agencies have already imposed hiring freezes, allowing exceptions only in very limited situations. This amendment, which failed 54 to 45, would have prevented agencies from using even that discretion. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland led the opposition.

Paul Ryan Recycles Bogus, Job-Destroying Budget Proposal Rejected by Voters: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan this week came up with another budget hoax, “The Path to Economic Destruction, Part III”. This is not exactly a surprise, especially after last year’s rhetoric and dishonesty that earned him many Pinocchios from fact-checkers and drove “Lyin' Ryan” to trend on Twitter. But the supposedly intellectual leader learned nothing and yet again resorted to accounting gimmicks and misleading charges to come up with the same old starve-the-government, throw-grandmas-and-poor-kids-under-the-bus budget. He continued to base his proposal on his ideologue that the government and its workers are evil, and so his job-destroying plan would slash 10% of federal jobs and cut federal employees’ retirement benefits by $132 billion over 10 years. It would dismantle Medicare by turning it into a voucher program that would result in seniors paying a lot more. It’s hard to imagine that anybody would want to throw poor children, seniors, and the disabled on the street as millions of them would be dropped from Medicaid, which would be turned into a block grant program under his proposal. Millions of the uninsured would lose their health insurance as his plan would repeal the historic Obamacare that makes health care more affordable.

107 House Lawmakers Call on Obama to Reject Benefits Cuts to Social Safety Net Programs: One hundred and seven members of the House of Representatives recently wrote to President Barack Obama urging him to reject any proposals in any bill that include cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. The lawmakers singled out the proposed use of the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments, which is essentially a benefit cut as it will reduce take-home money for Social Security recipients. The lawmakers also are opposed to raising the eligibility age for Medicare recipients, half of whom live on less than $22,000 a year but spend on average three times as much on health care as other Americans.

AFGE Rejects TSA’s New Rule to Allow Knives on Planes: AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. this week joined the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA at a rally on Capitol Hill to reject the Transportation Security Administration’s policy change that would allow small knives on airplanes.

“Any knife, regardless of blade size, can be used as a weapon,” NP Cox said. “Transportation Security Officers and flight attendants stand together against this dangerous new rule. TSA’s decision to allow knives and other potential weapons on aircraft must not stand. This rule endangers our TSOs, flight attendants and airline passengers.”

This Week in Labor History: March 17, 1890 – The leadership of the American Federation of Labor selects the Carpenters union to lead the 8-hour movement. Carpenters throughout the country strike in April; by May 1, some 46,000 carpenters in 137 cities and towns have achieved shorter hours.

This Week’s Tweet: “The White House has started quoting [right-wing lawmakers] bemoaning the sequester back home.” ~ ‏@BuzzFeedAndrew
Hot on YouTube: Funniest Thai commercial to date. 

Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” as the union fights for additional staffing and protective equipment in the Bureau of Prisons. The show, which originally aired on Friday, March 15, is now available on demand:
  • AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Dale Deshotel discussed the need for more resources in BOP in the wake of the recent death of correctional officer Eric Williams. Williams, 34, died on Feb. 25 after being assaulted by an inmate with a homemade weapon at the United States Penitentiary – Canaan in northeastern Pennsylvania.
  • Jean Dearden, director of the Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Program at the National Labor College, highlighted degree programs and courses offered by NLC as well as AFGE’s JNS Scholarship.
  • Democracy for America Chair Jim Dean then detailed efforts to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Dean also discussed sequestration and federal employee furloughs.
  • AFGE VA Local 1843 President Kelvin Flannery and Treasurer Betty Conlin addressed the impact sequestration will have on veterans and highlighted the local’s community service initiatives.

Quote of the Week: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan made an epic Freudian slip as he unveiled his ‘Path to Economic Destruction, Part III’ budget proposal:

“This to us is something that we’re not going to give up on, because we’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people.”

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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