The informational blog for Michael Meserve, Vice President, Western Region, Council of Prison Locals
Friday, May 10, 2013
AFGE Launches “Federal Dollars” Campaign to Stop Furloughs
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May 10, 2013
AFGE Launches “Federal Dollars” Campaign to Stop Furloughs:AFGE this week launched a “Federal Dollars” campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of federal employee furloughs and pay freezes on the local economy. The goal is to make sure that everyone in the community knows that furloughs and pay freezes don’t just hurt federal employees; they hurt the local economy too. Under the campaign, federal employees go into a store or restaurant and start a conversation: “I’ve been a customer for a long time, but with the furloughs and pay freezes, I will no longer be able to frequent your business, unless you’re willing to start taking these “Federal Dollars”. Local businesses are then asked to call their senators using the toll-free number on the back of the bill.
“The idea is to use the Federal Dollar to jump start a conversation within the community about what the attacks against us are going to mean for everyone, not just us,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “We need to get family members, friends, local businesses and organizations to weigh in on what the impact of furloughs, downgrades and continued pay freezes will have on the local economy.”
After only two days of the campaign, AFGE members have already ordered thousands of AFGE’s Federal Dollars via our Fight Back page. (do not click if you're on a government computer or on duty time)
NP Cox Meets 25 Senators to Talk Sequestration: AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. on Wednesday joined a group of 15 union leaders in a meeting with 25 senators to discuss various issues affecting workers including sequestration. NP Cox told the senators that federal employees have already contributed at least $105 billion over ten years and should not have to shoulder any more cuts when Congress looks for ways to save money. NP Cox also expressed his deep concern over the arbitrary imposition of 14-day furloughs on the Defense Department civilian workforce, which has the largest number of the lowest paid federal employees, many of whom are veterans.
“Everybody acknowledges that DoD furloughs will increase costs, reduce productivity, and undermine readiness,” he said. “The Navy, the Air Force, and some smaller defense agencies don’t need to use furloughs and say they’ll cost more in the long run. But DoD is insisting that if some agencies need to impose furloughs, then all components and furloughs must do so, including the same number of days, out of a perverse definition of "fairness". This makes no sense. There is more than enough room in DoD's budget to come up with the necessary funding. The Army told the House that it overspent on service contracts last year by 2.5 billion dollars, more than enough to prevent the need for furloughs.”
Tens of Thousands of AFGE Members Attend Tele-townhalls: More than 20,000 AFGE members across the country participated in the AFGE tele-townhalls with National President J. David Cox Sr. Wednesday night. NP Cox answered questions about furlough plans at each agency and discussed steps that need to be taken. If you missed the call, click here for some new materials that can help you with your fight. Make sure you are not on a government computer or reading it during duty time.
Federal Employees Recognized during Public Service Recognition Week: Federal employees are recognized for their work and contribution during the Public Service Recognition week this week, a nice break from the constant fed-bashing led by half of Congress. President Barack Obama earlier this week issued a letter honoring government employees who “tirelessly carry out the work of our government. Diligently serving without the expectation of fanfare, they enforce our laws, teach our children, and lay a strong foundation for our nation’s progress.” The Public Employees Roundtable on Sunday held its first annual Public Service 5K run/walk in Washington, D.C. with proceeds going to the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. A Public Service Town Hall with Cabinet members was held on Monday with a panel featuring HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini, who discussed ways to engage and motivate employees during budget cuts and pay freezes. A congressional breakfast was held on Tuesday to announce finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, or Sammies, to honor outstanding federal employees. Federal Executive Boards in cities across the country also sponsored events honoring public service throughout the week.
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. thanks federal employees for their service and dedication despite many challenges.
“During the past few years, federal employees have been targeted repeatedly for sacrifices to deficit reduction that no other group has been forced to make. Despite these challenges, federal employees continue to go to work each and every day. They know that the work they do makes an important and positive difference in people’s lives. Federal employees keep our country and its citizens safe, secure and sound. They deserve our admiration and gratitude — not just during Public Service Recognition Week, but every day of the year. I hope that lawmakers think about the federal employees back home in their districts when they confront the terrible proposals that would further cut federal employee benefits and take-home pay.”
AFGE Honors Federal Nurses during National Nurses Week: AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement in honor of National Nurses Week:
“National Nurses Week is a time to recognize the outstanding work that nurses perform in healthcare settings throughout the world. The American Federation of Government Employees is honored to represent thousands of federal nurses in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and the Bureau of Prisons. As a former registered nurse with the VA, I have seen firsthand the dedication and commitment to their jobs that federal nurses display. They care for our nation’s heroes and ensure that all patients receive the highest quality of care – often in difficult or even dangerous environments. Nurses worldwide deserve our gratitude and appreciation, not just during National Nurses Week but every day of the year.”
AFGE, Allies File Petition to Stop TSA Policy Allowing Knives on Planes: AFGE and eight other organizations this week filed a legal petition to reverse TSA’s policy that would allow knives through checkpoints and onto aircraft for the first time since 9/11. The policy was originally scheduled to go into effect April 25 but was delayed following massive opposition from AFGE, lawmakers, and frontline workers, including pilots and flight attendants. If the agency moves forward with its plan to allow these deadly weapons on airplanes, AFGE and our allies reserve the right to challenge TSA in federal court.
“To our knowledge, no union, law enforcement officer organization, passenger rights organizations, or airline has announced support for allowing knives in aircraft cabins and in other secure areas,” the coalition said in the May 6 legal petition. “The only group that has supported the change is the American Knife & Tool Institute (“AKTI”), which announced it was very pleased to work with the TSA on these revisions to ease restrictions. Unlike opponents of the new rule, AKTI has no interest in air safety – its interest is to sell knives.”
House Passes Bill to Replace Overtime Pay with Comp Time for Private Sector Employees: Just in time for Mother’s Day, the House this week passed a bill, H.R. 1406, that would end the 40-hour workweek as we know it by replacing overtime pay with comp time for workers in the private sector. The Pay Working Families Less bill, proposed by Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the 40-hour workweek to allow employees to spend more time away from work and to encourage employers to hire more staff to handle an increase in workload. The Roby bill would encourage employers to demand longer hours as mandatory overtime would become cheaper. The bill would give employers complete control over when the comp time is used, resulting in unpredictable work schedules and higher day care costs for employees with children. Cantor bill backers argue that this “flexibility” of comp time is already available for government workers, but they ignore the fact that the government has no profit motive like those notoriously greedy businesses.
“[The bill] would eliminate the 40-hour workweek as we know it,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland on the House floor. “I know my friends on the Republican side disagree with that premise, but I have been an employer. I’ve seen employers. They are not bad people, but they are trying to maximize profits. And they wouldn't be paying minimum wage if they didn't have to. And, very frankly, the minimum wage is way below what it ought to be.”
“Under H.R. 1406, workers who work overtime would never see a bump in their paycheck and would earn less take-home pay,” wrote Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker. “The "choice" to take time off sounds nice, but as many working parents and people of color know too well, calling something a "choice" assumes there are viable options. For many working families, taking home less pay at the end of the day means less money to cover rent, education costs, medical bills and other living expenses. The "choice" to take unpaid time off is not a choice at all.”
AFGE to Celebrate Law Enforcement Week: The AFGE Law Enforcement Committee will be meeting at the National Office on May 13-14, and all AFGE members employed in a law enforcement capacity are eligible to attend. During Tuesday's session, former Officer of the Year and VA Local 2281 Vice President Barbara Heckman-Sauer will present a class on being prepared for line of duty deaths and post critical incident response. We will also be attending the Annual Candlelight Vigil on Monday night. The Candlelight Vigil will be held at 8:00 p.m. at the 400 block of E Street, NW. Anyone in the area that would like additional information may contact AFGE LEC President Jeff Zuhlke at email@example.com or AFGE Assistant General Counsel J. Ward Morrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Corporations Want to Be Treated Like People, They Need to Disclose Their Political Spending: Concerned about the influence of corporate money in the political process, consumer group Sum of Us is doing a petition drive urging the Securities & Exchange Commission to require publicly held corporations to disclose their political spending, just like any American. The SEC is evaluating the rule, and the group has so far garnered more than 66,500 signatures.
If you want to sign the petition, visit www.SumOfUs.org and send in your comments to the SEC using your personal computer.
The AFL-CIO Wants to Hear from You: How Do We Build a Better, stronger Labor Movement for Working People? A message from the AFL-CIO:
“At the AFL-CIO Convention in September, the AFL-CIO needs to be ready to make decisions about how the union movement should change and what we can do together to make a better future for working people. We’re taking a hard look inward, at ourselves, and also asking for ideas from everybody who’ll share them—from people inside and outside the labor movement, from progressives, academics, student groups. We want ideas from anyone who cares deeply about building a real movement for working people. Visit AFLCIO2013.org and join the conversation about the future of work. These discussions will be happening all across the country, both in person and online. We’ve invited journalists, activists, academics and even a former Cabinet member to lead online discussions around some of today’s most pressing questions. How can we compete in a global economy? How can communities make an impact on workers’ rights? What’s the union movement’s proper relationship to the Democratic Party? Please share your ideas now at AFLCIO2013.org.”
USDA Promotes Access to Summer Meals for Low-Income School Kids: The USDA provides free or reduced price lunches to 22 million children during the school year through the National School Lunch Program. However, during summer break, only 3 million of those students participate in the summer feeding program. The program helps fill the summer food gap for low-income children by reimbursing organizations that serve children meals at feeding sites during summer months. Schools, churches, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, and camps can provide summer meals in neighborhoods with high percentages of low income families, making a positive impact on the lives of hungry children.
Click here to learn more if you want to mobilize your community to sponsor the program. Click here to learn about tips and strategies to help sponsors and sites raise awareness of their programs among families in need.
This Week in Labor History: May 10, 2005 - A federal bankruptcy judge permits United Airlines to legally abandon responsibility for pensions covering 120,000 employees.
This Week’s Dumbest Bill: The Full Faith and Credit Act, H.R. 807, would allow the government to borrow money beyond the debt ceiling but only to pay for the Social Security Trust Fund and public debt. If Congress doesn’t raise the country’s borrowing limit, these payments have priority over other payments such as veterans’ healthcare and Medicare. The bill passed the House this week.
Why it’s dumb: The debt ceiling should never be an issue as Congress itself sets spending limits every year through spending bills and other measures. Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t authorize new spending; it simply lets the government pay its bills and make good on commitments it's already made. Prioritizing debt would only hurt the country’s credit rating and borrowing costs.
This Week’s Tweet: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Banks shouldn't be getting a better deal on loans than students http://thkpr.gs/10dxTyb” ~ @thinkprogress
Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” as the union recognizes federal nurses during National Nurses Week. The show, which originally aired on Friday, May 10, is now available on demand.
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr., 8th District National Vice President Jane Nygaard, Council of Prison Locals North Central Region Fair Practices Coordinator Sandy Parr, and National Veterans Affairs Council National Representative David Mollett participated in a roundtable discussion highlighting National Nurses Week and the challenges nurses face in agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Prisons, Department of Defense, and Indian Health Service. The guests also addressed the fight for equal treatment of all federal nurses and the impact understaffing and underfunding have on patient care.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com. For more information, please visit InsideGovernmentRadio.com.
Quote of the Week: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray calls on House lawmakers to end the constant lurching from crisis to crisis and instead go back to a formal conference under regular order:
“House [leaders] have announced a conference—but it’s not a conference about getting a budget deal. It’s a conference to decide what they’ll demand in exchange for not tanking the economy….This is absurd, and it’s not going to happen. We know because we went through the same thing last time we approached the debt limit.”
American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO 80 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 | Tel. (202) 737-8700 | Fax (202) 639-6492 | www.afge.org