Friday, September 13, 2013

Powerful House Lawmakers Push for Cuts to Contractor Workforce

Sept. 13, 2013
  • Powerful House Lawmakers Push for Cuts to Contractor Workforce
  • AFGE Officers Reelected to AFL-CIO Executive Council
  • Eric Young Elected as President of AFGE BOP Council
  • AFGE Urges OMB to Direct Agencies to Look for Savings Through Cuts in Service Contracts Before Imposing Furloughs
  • House Lawmakers Hold Government Hostage over Obamacare Funding, Again
  • AFGE Questions Army's Plans to Make Deeper Personnel Cuts Than Directed
  • Senate Panel to Consider FLRA Nominations
  • VA Leaders Unwilling to Take Responsibility over Deaths of Veterans Caused by Legionnaires' Outbreak
  • AFGE Remembers 9/11
  • MSPB Resumes Processing Furlough Appeals
  • AFGE Denounces Mayor Gray's Veto of D.C. Living Wage Bill
  • Federal Workforce Dips by 67,400
Powerful House Lawmakers Push for Cuts to Contractor Workforce: House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman Bill Young and Ranking Member Peter Visclosky this week asked the Pentagon to aim its axe at the contractor workforce in order to comply with total workforce management law and policy that prohibit arbitrary cuts only on civilian and military positions.  In a Sept. 11 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the lawmakers said instead of imposing an arbitrary 20% cut to headquarters civilian and military personnel, DoD should conduct a review of functions and costs and eliminate unnecessary functions and contracts rather than blindly impose across-the-board cuts. The department should also come up with a comparable goal for a cut on the contractor workforce at the headquarters, especially because both Congress and the administration have identified instances where contractor personnel have illegally performed work that should only be done by federal employees. The lawmakers want their recommendations to be part of the 2013 organizational review the Pentagon is about to issue.
"In order for the Review's recommendations to generate support, both in the department and in Congress, it is imperative that the Review subject all three workforces to scrutiny, be based on accurate information, and comply with legal and administrative requirements for workforce management," the lawmakers wrote.

AFGE Officers Reelected to AFL-CIO Executive Council: AFGE is proud to announce that National President J. David Cox Sr. and District 10 National Vice President Rogelio "Roy" Flores were reelected as AFL-CIO Vice Presidents during the quadrennial convention in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Three national officers and 55 vice presidents make up the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which guides the daily work of the federation. AFL-CIO is the umbrella labor federation representing more than 12 million working men and women nationwide.
"AFGE's membership in the AFL-CIO ensures that the 670,000 federal and D.C. government workers we represent have a voice in guiding the future of the entire American labor movement. We are both eager to work with the newly elected officers to build a vibrant and broadly inclusive labor movement that will serve as the voice for all of America's workers," Cox said.
During the convention, delegates reelected Richard Trumka to a second term as AFL-CIO President, while Elizabeth Shuler was reelected to a second term as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. Tefere Gebre, a 45-year-old Ethiopian political refugee who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, was elected Executive Vice President.

Eric Young Elected as President of AFGE BOP Council: AFGE's Council of Prison Locals recently elected Eric Young as president during its convention in Hollywood, Fla. Young, a Gulf War Army veteran, previously served as president of AFGE Local 501 in Miami, Fla. for seven years and CPL southeast regional vice president for six years. CPL represents more than 30,000 bargaining unit employees in the United States and Puerto Rico and is made up of workers from virtually all levels of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

"Eric Young is a great labor activist and veteran and we are excited to work with him as we continue fighting to protect all BOP workers," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "Federal correctional workers put their lives on the line each and every day and deserve the necessary protections to remain safe on the job."

For more information on the Council of Prison Locals, please visit

AFGE Urges OMB to Direct Agencies to Look for Savings Through Cuts in Service Contracts Before Imposing Furloughs: Citing mistakes by the Defense Department, which abused its decision to impose furloughs on civilians and had to reduce the furlough days after finding massive savings through service contracts, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. this week urged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to direct agencies to look for savings through cuts in service contracts before they think about furloughing federal employees.

"DoD is the only agency to have been singled out by Congress," NP Cox said, referring to a number of measures House lawmakers have passed that would prohibit civilian furloughs at DoD next fiscal year. "It is important that we learn lessons from DoD's mistakes."

NP Cox also asked OMB to convey its support of a ban on the A-76 outsourcing process to Congress before lawmakers finalize the 2014 financial services appropriations bill. Even though the Senate version contains the ban, the House version doesn't, and many House lawmakers are pushing for a repeal of the ban. NP Cox asked OMB to issue guidance to prohibit direct conversions of federal jobs to contractors. OMB usually issues guidance on contracting issues, and a ban on direct conversions deserves the same treatment because a small footnote banning direct conversions in a 788-page document to heads of agencies about sequestration doesn't reach the target audience – the acquisition workforce.

House Lawmakers Hold Government Hostage over Obamacare Funding, Again: The House this week postponed a vote on a short-term spending bill to keep the government running after the end of this month. The holdup was a result of the House leadership's attempt to strip funding for the 2010 health care law that makes health coverage affordable for the 30 million uninsured Americans and those with pre-existing conditions. House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor want to secure enough votes for the anti-health care law spending measure. Besides the controversial provision, the bill would fund most federal agencies at current, post-sequestration levels with some wiggle room "to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental impacts on government programs, or to ensure good government and program oversight."   The bill would also allow agencies to increase personnel costs to avoid civilian furloughs after exhausting other cost reducing options.

AFGE Questions Army's Plans to Make Deeper Personnel Cuts Than Directed: AFGE this week questioned the Army's rationale to reduce Army headquarters personnel by 25%, which is 5% more than directed by the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD). "The 20% cut called for by the Deputy Secretary is completely arbitrary, of course, but what analysis supports even greater cuts in the Army than in other components?" AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. asked in a Sept. 12 letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

NP Cox went on to ask why the Army's personnel plans only targeted civilians and not contractors for cuts, which is contrary to a directive by OSD that calls for cuts in contract services as well. As contractors frequently perform important functions that should be done by federal employees only, like critical or inherently governmental functions, NP Cox questioned whether contractors were involved in drafting the Army's headquarters budget reduction plans.

Senate Panel to Consider FLRA Nominations: The three-member Federal Labor Relations Authority is one step closer to being operational again after not being able to issue decisions since Jan. 1 due to a lack of a quorum. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce has scheduled a hearing on Sept. 25 on the nominations of Chairman Ernie DuBester, former-Chairman Carol Waller Pope, and Patrick Pizzella.

The FLRA's ability to rule on cases is important to federal employees as the agency oversees the rights of federal employees to form collective bargaining units and to engage in collective bargaining with agencies.

VA Leaders Unwilling to Take Responsibility over Deaths of Veterans Caused by Legionnaires' Outbreak: At a Sept. 9 field hearing conducted by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, VA leaders exhibited the same unwillingness to take responsibility for their harmful actions as they did at a February hearing where AFGE VA Local 2028 President Kathi Dahl testified about a management cover up of a Legionnaires' outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA that resulted in five patient deaths. The panel heard testimony from the families of veterans who lost their lives while receiving care at VA medical facilities in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Jackson, Miss., Dallas, and Buffalo. The hearing also delved deep into the performance bonuses awarded to executives within the VA who had patient deaths occur under their supervision. VA's Undersecretary of Health Dr. Robert Petzel said he was sadden by the deaths of veterans but defended the bonus given to VISN 4 Director Michael Moreland. "The bonus was awarded for the performance as we knew it then," Petzel said when asked by committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller if he had asked that the bonuses given in Pittsburgh be returned.

"All too often our rank-and-file employees must battle mismanagement and a lack of accountability among agency leaders when doing their jobs," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "For years we have seen Network Director Michael Moreland, in particular, rewarded for poor management and the retaliation of whistleblowers under his watch. Veterans have died while he's been at the helm of VISN 4. It is unconscionable that he would defend his five-figure bonus while the victims' families expressed their anguish over their experience."

What's even more outrageous is that the problem at the Pittsburgh VA hospital has not been fixed. In a recent test by a special pathogens lab, water samples came back positive for Legionella.

AFGE Remembers 9/11: Twelve years ago on September 11, 2001 the course of American history was changed forever. Union workers were there that day — working in the buildings that were struck, flying on the airplanes that were used as weapons, charging into the chaos in the seconds and minutes after the attacks to save as many lives as possible, and conducting rescue and recovery efforts in the hours and days that followed. Today, AFGE remembers all of those who perished in the horrific terrorist attacks and honors the survivors of that tragic day. Since 9/11, AFGE members continue to work on the frontlines to ensure safety for the American people. In spite of savage budget cuts, AFGE members at the Department of Defense continue to support our military's mission; AFGE border patrol agents secure our borders; and AFGE Transportation Security Officers safeguard our air travel.

"Our hearts are with the victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001. AFGE members are committed to protecting this country and ensuring that nothing like this ever happens again," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.

MSPB Resumes Processing Furlough Appeals:  The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) this week announced it has begun processing furlough appeals again after weeks of delays due to volume of cases. "MSPB can report that almost all of the furlough appeals have been docketed by our regional offices," the agency said on its website. "Certain MSPB regional offices have begun the consolidation process and have sent the parties Acknowledgment Orders, which set forth the next steps in the process."
About 99% of the 32,000 furlough appeals were from Defense employees who were forced to take unpaid leave for six days because of sequestration.

AFGE Denounces Mayor Gray's Veto of D.C. Living Wage Bill: AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. strongly denounced D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's decision to veto legislation that would require the city's largest retailers to pay workers a living wage. The Large Retailer Accountability Act would require D.C. stores measuring at least 7,500 square feet whose parent companies earn $1 billion or more in annual profits to pay employees at least $12.50 per hour in combined wages and benefits. The D.C. Council approved the bill last month.

"Mayor Gray's decision to veto the living wage bill is wrong morally, economically, and politically," NP Cox said. "Allowing Wal-Mart to pay wages that are so low that workers are unable to support themselves and their families is reprehensible. By vetoing this legislation, Mayor Gray has placed the interests of big corporations over the wellbeing of the citizens he was elected to serve."

Federal Workforce Dips by 67,400: The non-postal federal workforce shrank 3%, or 67,400 employees, between August 2012 and August 2013, according to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The postal workforce also got smaller during the same period, dropping from 608,700 to 589,800.

This Week in Labor History: September 11, 2001 – More than 3,000 people died when suicide hijackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field. Among the dead in New York were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell.

This Week's Tweet: Elizabeth Warren touts Glass-Steagall, slams Congress over banking regulation 5 years after crisis  ~ @Salon

Hot on WWW: A dad's reaction when his teenage daughter insisted on wearing super-short shorts.

Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE's "Inside Government" as AFGE members share their stories from the front lines of federal service. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Sept. 6, is now available on demand.
  • Bobby Newsome, executive vice president of Transportation Security Administration Local 778, discussed efforts to enforce the union's contract with TSA and the dedication of TSOs in protecting the flying public.
  • Council of Prison Locals National Fair Practices Coordinator Sandy Parr then shed light on discrimination and retaliation concerns in the Bureau of Prisons and the dangers BOP workers face in the workplace.
  • Marva Newell, women's coordinator and a steward for Department of Veterans Affairs Local 2241, addressed the special medical needs of veterans returning home from combat and the importance of properly staffing and funding the VA.
  • National Council of Social Security Administration Field Operations Locals Regional Vice President David Sheagley discussed morale at SSA field offices throughout the country.

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

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