Monday, June 10, 2013

AFGE Week in Review- Businesses Not Aware Furloughs Affect Their Bottom Line

June 10, 2013

Businesses Not Aware Furloughs Affect Their Bottom Line: EPA employee Giselle Jasmin walked into a lunch buffet restaurant near her office in Washington, D.C. and handed an AFGE Federal Dollar bill to a restaurant manager. She explained how pay freezes and furloughs were reducing her income, which in turn prevented her from frequenting the place.

“Of course they were not going to accept the bill. They were shocked,” she said, adding the restaurant didn’t know that furloughs could affect its bottom line. “Now they know. Everybody is feeling it.”

Most people are not even aware of federal employees’ pay freezes, said Jon Klaybor, ICE Local 2580 shop steward in Buffalo, New York. Klaybor used the AFGE Federal Dollar bills to talk to his neighbors and explain how federal employees’ furloughs and the pay cut affect local economies. He also asked them to call their local lawmakers to cancel the furloughs. Even though he himself won’t be furloughed, there are a lot of federal employees in the area who will.

“When they think about sequestration, they think about long lines at the airport,” he said. “They didn’t even know stores and restaurants were losing businesses because of the furloughs.”

But a waitress at a Red Lobster in St. Paul, Minnesota, noticed the trend. She immediately sympathized with AFGE Local 1969 First Vice President Gary Schabert when he told her he wouldn’t be able to come to the restaurant as often as he’d like because of the pay freezes. The waitress said her boss cut her hours as business had been slow. She promised to call and ask her senators to stop the federal pay freezes and furloughs.

So far, AFGE Locals across the country have ordered more than $160,000 in AFGE Federal Dollars. The union launched the campaign last month to raise public awareness about the impact of federal employees’ furloughs on local economies.

AFGE Local in Michigan Launches Brown Bag Wednesdays to Protest Sequestration: AFGE Local 1658 representing Defense employees in Michigan is launching a Brown Bag Wednesdays campaign to urge every federal employee to brown bag their lunch every Wednesday starting July 10 to protest impending furloughs set to begin July 8 at DoD. The goal is to bring attention to the plight of these workers who are forced to take a 20% pay cut and how their reduced income will hurt the local economy.

“Our initial thought was to show businesses in the area how much they depend on federal dollars,” Greg Polcyn, Local 1658 area vice president, posted on Facebook. “Obviously, we don't want to put anyone out of business. That's why we are starting with just one day a week. I think what's lost on many people is how intertwined the federal workers are to the local economies.”

MSPB Expects Mass Furlough Appeals: The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) told reporters it is bracing itself for an influx of appeals following AFGE’s call for members to appeal their furloughs. MSPB said it expects an “unprecedented situation” of mass appeals once the furloughs start at the largest federal agency, the Defense Department, which plans to furlough 680,000 civilians for 11 days beginning July 8.

The across-the-board cut took effect March 1, triggering waves of devastating cuts including furloughs at many federal agencies. According to the Congressional Budget Office, sequestration could kill about 750,000 jobs by the end of this year.

White House Asks for 1% Raise for Feds: The White House last week reiterated its call for a 1% pay raise for federal employees, which, if approved by Congress, would break the pay freezes for three straight years that started in 2010. The administration’s request was part of the policy statement on FY 2014 spending bills for
Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments.

AFGE Granted First Ever Dept. of Justice Sexual Harassment Class Action Suit: A federal judge last week
granted AFGE the first ever class action sexual harassment case against BOP and the Justice Department. AFGE Local 506 filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than 360 women working at the Coleman Federal Prison in Florida. These women were subjected to daily sexual harassment such as crude comments and groping by male prisoners at the facility for years but management refused to take any action against the prisoners. Managers even destroyed incident reports and forced the women to change their incident reports to make the offenses less severe.

“Those female staff did not give up their rights to work in that environment,” AFGE Local 506 President Joe Rojas said. “They need to change policy. They need to hold these inmates accountable.”

Lots Going on in FY 2014 Defense Authorization Act: The House Armed Services Committee met last week to consider the 2014 Defense Authorization Act. They voted on many measures and the bill will be considered by the full House this week. The following are measures that affect DoD civilian employees:

  • Measure to strike a ban on the A-76 privatization process at DoD: Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia offered this amendment but withdrew it because he could not defend it during the ensuing debate. His amendment would have opened up the outsourcing flood gate at DoD, costing even more civilian jobs that have been subjected to arbitrary cuts for years. But Rigell is not done destroying federal jobs. He will offer this measure again on the House floor next week. And this time it might be a government-wide amendment, not just DoD.
  • Measure to cap service contract spending: The committee voted 37-25 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. Rob Andrews that would extend the cap on the Department of Defense's service contract spending through fiscal 2015. AFGE thanks the committee's bipartisan support. If the civilian workforce is capped, then the service contract workforce should also be capped. We will fight to retain this important reform on the floor and in conference.
  • Measure to make it easier for contractors to perform functions that are closely associated with inherently governmental jobs: This amendment offered by Rep. Scott Rigell was watered down and then accepted without a vote, so it can be quietly killed in conference, as occurred last year.
  • Measures to increase arsenal workload and sustain the workforce were approved by the committee. The first amendment would require DoD to identify all weapons manufactured outside the U.S. that can be produced by arsenals and report to Congress. The second amendment requires acquisition personnel to proactively identify all workload in advance that an arsenal has the capability to manufacture and give them an opportunity to make a bid. These measures were offered by Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa.
  • Reps. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire included in the bill without a vote a provision which would establish tight deadlines to finally correct "at risk" service contracts by terminating unauthorized personal services contracts and contracts with inherently governmental functions as well as review all contracts with closely associated with inherently governmental functions for possible insourcing. Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa included report language that would require DoD to adopt that Army's checklist, which requires contracting officers to certify that a contract is not in violation of the sourcing and workforce management laws DoD has managed to enact over the last dozen years.
  • Measures not offered: Thanks to the efforts of AFGE activists, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado never offered the amendments to downsize the civilian workforce, to give to contractors all commercial work performed by military personnel, and  to repeal the insourcing law and starve civilian employees of new work. But these measures could be offered on the House floor this week. Also not offered were depot-related measures to repeal the 50/50 rule and weaken depot core or to establish an industry panel to review depot law, thanks to the work of the Depot Caucus.

The bill will be considered by the entire House of Representatives this week. AFGE is especially concerned about floor amendments to require the use of the controversial OMB Circular A-76 privatization process, perhaps by all federal agencies, and to arbitrarily downsize the DoD civilian workforce. Contact John Threlkeld at for further information.

AFGE Applauds Decision to Keep Airplane Knife Ban in Place: AFGE applauds the Obama administration’s decision to rescind a policy change that would have allowed knives on airplanes for the first time since 9/11. On May 6, AFGE was one of nine organizations representing over 400,000 aviation professionals, passengers, and law enforcement officers that filed a legal petition with Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging them to rescind the policy change and keep the knife ban in place. AFGE represents more than 45,000 Transportation Security Officers who screen all commercial airline passengers, baggage, and cargo.

“I commend Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Pistole for listening to our concerns and having the wisdom to withdraw this proposal in light of the grave safety and security risks to our members at TSA, to the flying public and aviation employees,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

AFGE Calls on OSHA to Investigate Legionella at Other VA Hospitals: More reports of legionella detection at other VA hospitals prompted AFGE to ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to conduct an inspection and investigation. Within the past month, legionella was found in the water systems at the Altoona VA hospital in Pennsylvania, a VA outpatient clinic in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and other facilities in the state, which is under the jurisdiction of VA Regional Area 4 (VISN 4). The disease detected at the Altoona VA hospital appears to have been known by management around May 8, but was not reported to staff until May 29, a déjà vu of the Legionnaire’s outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA hospital where management’s failure to promptly address the issue killed five veterans and sickened 21 others, including employees.  A federal investigation concluded that VA failed to follow its own rules in maintaining its water system. VISN 4 Director Michael Moreland acknowledged during testimony before Congress that he was aware of this problem for over a year before he finally told patients and staff in November 2012.

“There appears to be a systematic breakdown in Mr. Moreland’s region that has resulted in an inability to protect employees and patients of the VA from exposure to legionella,” AFGE General Counsel David Borer said in the May 31 letter to OSHA.

Are Pentagon Civilians Really Behind the Pentagon’s Money Woes?: A story confirms that DoD contractors, not civilians, are the cause of the agency’s budgetary problems. Click here to read the entire article.

Need to rent a car? AFGE members enjoy up to 25% in savings with rental car discounts from Alamo Rent A Car, Avis Rent A Car, Budget Car Rental, Hertz Rental Car and National Car Rental. Click here for more information.

This Week in Labor History: June 04, 1912 - Massachusetts becomes the first state to establish a minimum wage.

This Week’s Tweet: “Now is the time to be an infrastructure hawk, not a deficit hawk “ ~ Ezra Klein ‏@ezraklein

Hot on YouTube: Where’s the most dangerous place on earth?

Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for details on the union’s field mobilization plan. The show, which originally aired on Friday, June 7, is now available on demand.

  • AFGE Field Mobilization Director Tucker McDonald discussed AFGE’s field mobilization plan to fight back against sequestration and federal employee furloughs.
  • Patrick Russell, president of AFGE’s District 8 Department of Veterans Affairs Council 259, detailed efforts to prevent the closure of a VA hospital in Hot Springs, S.D.
  • AFGE Transportation Security Administration Local 778 Executive Vice President Bobby Newsome provided an update on the implementation of the labor contract between AFGE and TSA. Newsome also discussed challenges TSOs face in the workplace.

Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at For more information, please visit

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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