Newsletter

Apr 2003

AFGE Local 2040 News

Vol. 2, No. 2

Presidentís Message

Mark McDonald, President AFGE Local 2040

March Blizzard: On March 18th, 2003 the Denver area experienced the "blizzard of the century". Though Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) had issued advice to not drive and Cities were on accident alert before 0700, Management decided to charge everyone leave that did not report to the building between 1030 and 1100 that morning. Because management told employees to call the ARPC 800 (APRCís volunteer information line) management created a situation where employees did as instructed and have been penalized for doing so. After exhausting all efforts to work with senior management and HR to get them to do the right thing, a grievance had to be filed. Our Lawyers (Minahan & Shapiro) filed a grievance asking that all bargaining unit employees have their leave restored and be given administrative leave for the 18th. As of this date, the agency has not responded to the grievance. The Union feels it would be much cheaper for the Agency and better for moral to emulate ARPCís leadership on this issue and grant the administrative leave.

Sick Leave Usage: The Agency has become concerned about how much sick leave employees are using. Management does not seem to care about reasons why, just that the numbers are higher than management would like. The Union agrees with the Agency that employees should use sick leave prudently and that it is your responsibility to do so, not your managersí. Sick leave is a property right meaning you own it, not the Agency. Management may NOT infringe on your right to use sick leave as long as you adhere to governing statutes and MUMA. Managers may NOT add to the sick leave article by creating their own policies and conditions of use. Leads may NOT approve leave usage under the MUMA. The MUMA also states that management may NOT ask you for a doctorís note until you have been absent more than three consecutive work days. Make sure you notify your supervisor of your need to take sick leave. You are NOT required to report for work prior to taking sick leave. If you are experiencing problems in this area please send me an email with details.

Blood Donations: Another leave area the Agency is suddenly concerned about. This issue appears to also be surfacing at other DFAS sites. Here are the rules: You may be granted up to four hours of administrative leave (approved in advance) for the purpose of donation and recovery. Note that if you are going to give blood, you should schedule it for the last four hours of your work day and not return to the work area to make sure you have a full opportunity to be fit for duty the next day. Take your stuff with you (coat, bag, etc.) when you leave to donate blood, this avoids confusing management about your intentions. This benefit applies whether you donate blood in building 444 or another site. If you have a problem concerning this please email Terry Cole or myself.

2003 Pay Raise: The President finally issued an executive order directing how the extra 1% pay raise, won for you by the Union, would be paid. According to the DFAS memo (www.afge171.org) we should be receiving the 1% retroactive to the 1st full pay day in 2003 no later than the 23 May paycheck. This is the third year in a row the Union has gotten us a larger pay raise than the President proposed.

National Negotiations: As of today the agency has not agreed when to start negotiations on the Nation-wide DFAS Labor agreement. That means you still have time to tell the Union what you would like to see changed. Email me what you would like to see added, removed or clarified. If you are having problems with management concerning the contract, email me a description of what is going on so we can use it to improve the language.

DEFCON: I attended the Defense Conference training in March 28, 29, 30 and 31. Articles & Procedures of Operation were adopted by those attending. See (http://www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=ArticlesofProcedure).

Events included hearing from Mr. Charles Abell, Deputy Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, legislative updates, and workshops on dealing with agency reorganizations and mobilization techniques. I found his statements interesting and I believe he left with much to think about. Mr. Abell stated that in the future he will meet with the local Union representatives at each site he visits.

DoD is asking Congress for an exemption from the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act in order to do away with the GS pay system replace it with Pay Banding. Pay Banding means that you may be doing the same work as your co-workers but may be paid significantly less than they do. The supervisor gets to set your pay. What kind of mischief do you think will occur because of this wrong-headed approach to pay?

Another item is Pay for Performance. Sounds like it might have potential until you understand that each agency will have a "closed pot" of money for pay which means that for every pay increase given by your supervisor, someone's pay will have to be cut in the branch to balance it out. Guess who that will be?

As of this writing DoD is still "shopping" its proposals which means trying to find a legislator to sponsor them. Keep an eye on this as it will effect your pay, entitlements and retirement. Donít think it could happen? Take a look at Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Authority was given to create a new pay and personnel system without having a plan. DoD proposes to do the same. Thatís right, they don't even have a plan, just ideas.

AFGE is actively working with DHS to keep employee pay equity, entitlements, rights and benefits. AFGE believes that whatever DHS comes up with for a pay and personnel system DoD will adopt.

Investigations: I know this has been covered before but some of us need reminding. There is no such thing as an informal investigation. All investigations are formal meetings. No exceptions! Whether or not you are the one being investigated, you need to protect your rights by having the Union present.

How do you know you are participating in an investigation? Is a Human Resource representative, another supervisor or security (civilian or contractor) present? Are there other people not from your work area sitting or standing around staring at you? Are you being asked questions or ordered to submit to being searched? Is someone taking notes? Do you hear "looking into" "tell us what you know" "what happened" "so and so said"? If so, you are in an investigation regardless of management may say and you need to immediately ask for a Union Representative. Do not wait to see how it comes out. Management may NOT determine for you whether or not you need a Union representative. The meeting must stop until the Union can be present, even if it means the meeting is postponed until the next work day.

The Union will not interfere with the investigation. The Union can advise you, help you understand what is being asked, and serve as a witness as to what is asked and what is said. Donít try to be your own lawyer, it never works. Cooperation is required. Be aware that EVERYTHING you say, no matter how innocent, will be used against you. Make sure you understand each question before answering. If you do not understand, have the question repeated or ask for clarification. Donít guess what you think questioner wants to hear. Always tell the truth. Above all, donít waive your rights by not asking for the Union. I always hear "sure wish I had asked for the Union" and of course afterwards it is too late.

Membership: Are you a dues paying member? If so, thank you. Your support of the Union has made all the pay increases and benefits that everyone enjoys possible, even management.

If you are not a member, what is the problem? Do you drive your car without insurance? Do you see the doctor without insurance? Do you have a house without homeowners insurance? Do you really believe that it wonít matter whether or not you support the Union? Who do you think pays for Steward training? If you ever need help, don't you want the best educated help possible? Don't you want the Union to lobby Congress for your pay and benefits? Your job?

Federal employees are under attack from corporate America as never before. Those that would like to take your job and retirement from you have a lot of money to spend, most of it from government contracts. Kind of ironic isn't it. You pay companies to provide goods and services to the Government with your taxes. Those same companies turn around and use your money to lobby Congress to give them your jobs.

Without your support as a dues paying member, the Union winds up having one hand tied behind its back in every battle fought on your behalf. Donít you think itís about time you stepped up to the plate? Itís easy to join. Fill out a form (http://www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=BecomeAMember&Fuse=Document&DocumentID=3) and turn it in to an officer or steward. Membership dues are only $14.05 per pay day. Too much you say? In 21 years I have never missed the small amount collected to help keep the Union running. The amount is less than a cable bill, less than one evening out to dinner, less than one night at the bar, probably less than one co-payment at the doctor, dentist or pharmacy and unlike these items that take your money, paying dues puts money in your pocket. Your pay raise this year is enough to pay Union dues for four years. Join today as tomorrow may be too late.

Membership Meetings: All dues paying members are invited to participate in the monthly membership meetings. Non-dues-paying members are welcome to observe but may not participate.

Marchís Membership Meeting was cancelled due to the blizzard.

Next Membership Meeting

15 April 2003 at 11:00am in the Weber Auditorium

AFGE Local 2040

POBox 200157

Denver, Co 80220

Union Office (303) 676-7140 POST 1D18

President: Mark McDonald 7304, Treasurer: John Martin 7684, Secretary: Cheryl Williamson-Brown 7908 DFAS VP Terry Cole Sr 2711, ARPC VP Mike Molina 7027, Trustee: Marian Wells; Trustee; Stephen Lobato 4207

Web site www.afge171.org