New Chief Steward

Outgoing Chief Steward Alan Carpien.

Outgoing Chief Steward Alan Carpien.

We've passed the Chief-Steward torch recently in Chapter 280, with Chief Steward Alan Carpien's retirement. The Chapter Executive Board voted to replace Alan, upon his retirement, with NTEU Secretary Anne Pastorkovich.

Alan leaves us after serving 48 years in the federal government, with 37 years of that at EPA. We were fortunate to have Alan for the last six months of his federal service as he poured all his energy into serving our members.

Upon his departure, Alan said:  "Please convey to the NTEU Board and membership my thanks for their allowing me to serve as Chief Steward for the last six months.  I hope I have been able to help some people and even learned a thing or two.  Happy New Year to all and best of luck as you continue in your careers." Alan made an enormous difference for us settling several grievances favorably for our members and handling numerous other member difficulties. We are very sad to see him go.

Incoming Chief Steward Anne Pastorkovich.

Incoming Chief Steward Anne Pastorkovich.

The sadness of his departure is tempered somewhat by the fact that he will be replaced by equally-capable Anne Pastorkovich, longtime Union official and Executive Board Secretary. Anne is also an attorney with the skills necessary for the Chief Steward position. Anne assumes her seat on January 9, 2017.

Anne's departure left a hole in our Executive Board, however. Our Secretary position remains open. If you're interested in serving as Secretary, please contact NTEU Chapter 280 President Diane Lynne. Remember, only dues-paying members may serve on the Executive Board. If you're interested, please visit our membership page to get the details on Chapter membership.

Open Season Ends December 12

Don't forget that "open season" for federal employees ends at midnight on Monday, December 12, 2016. Open season is the time when you can change your health, dental, and vision plans and create a healthcare flexible spending account without a qualifying life event. OPM has a countdown clock, along with more information on open season here.

NTEU members get FREE access to the awesome Washington Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Health Plans, which lets you see how the plans compare on price and features. If you want Guide access and have not yet joined, please contact NTEU Executive Vice President Amer Al-Mudallal directly at 202-566-2789 to process your membership form. Since Guide access is provided through NTEU's national website, and membership-form processing normally takes some time, we'll need to handle your form specially to ensure you get full access to the NTEU website before the deadline.

If you've already joined but still do not have access, please contact NTEU's national membership coordinator Margaret Allen at 202-572-5500, provide her your name and full social security number, and let her know that you need access soon to the NTEU website members-only materials.

In addition to the Guide to Health Plans, members also save money through a bunch of discounts provided by NTEU. If you take full advantage of these discounts, you can effectively offset the entire cost of your yearly membership.  Click here to see a complete list of member benefits in this PDF.

 

Daily Flexible Schedule

Have you ever gotten delayed coming into work? Did that stress you out because you were concerned that people were counting how many times you were late? Have you ever wanted flexibility to shift your schedule on a day-to-day basis without supervisor approval to handle child-care responsibilities, errands, or just because you like to vary things?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement approved last year includes a new schedule option called the Daily Flexible Schedule. Features include....

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2.02% Pay Raise Expected for 2017

Earlier in the year the President announced a 1.0% across-the-board pay raise for federal General Schedule (GS) employees. Now, under different authority, the President transmitted to Congress his plan to provide an additional 0.6% average locality pay increase for federal GS employees.

In the Washington-Baltimore area, this means GS employees will receive a 2.02% pay raise after January 1, 2017.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the....

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Security Closures Near Mellon Auditorium

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We received this today from the EPA Security Management Division...

EPA Security has been notified that there will be a three day international delegation meeting held at the Mellon Auditorium with other federal agencies, from Monday November 21, through Wednesday November 23, 2016.

Appropriate authorities will implement additional security measures at the William Jefferson Clinton (WJC) East building. This will also include increased security presence in the Federal Triangle area.

Entrance Closure:
• The WJC East employee entrance under the archway adjacent to the Mellon Auditorium will close at 2:30pm on Monday November 21, 2016 and remain closed all day Tuesday and Wednesday.
• With ongoing GSA rigging operations (i.e. fencing) in between the WJC East building and the Ronald Reagan building, this closure will likely require employees trying to gain access to the WJC East and West buildings (from outside) to use the entrances on Constitution Avenue.

If you have questions, please send an email to OARM-OA-HQ-OB@epa.gov

NTEU Fights for You

Click above to download a flyer to hang in your office or cube.

Click above to download a flyer to hang in your office or cube.

There are new threats to the important, hard work you do every day at the EPA. NTEU is here to serve as your advocate through uncertainty.

NTEU is YOUR Union working on:

  • Educating Congress and the administration on what you do
  • Defending EPA employees
  • Fighting threats to your agency

Now we must stand together. Join NTEU and Join the fight for EPA employees.

Click the image at the right to download a flyer with this message. Hang it in your cube or office, in your break room, and on community bulletin boards around the office.

Open Season & Consumers' CheckBook Guide to Health Plans

Become a member and get free access!

Become a member and get free access!

Don't forget that "open season" started this week. You can now change health, dental, and vision plans, and start, change, or end your federal savings account (FSA-Feds). You must make your selection by December 12, when open season ends. After that, you can only make changes with a "qualifying life event."

If you are a dues-paying member of NTEU, you get free access to the Washington Consumers' Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans by joining NTEU Chapter 280 at this page. Then, when you receive your NTEU membership number, get access to the free Guide to Health Plans benefit by clicking here.

If you're having problems getting access to the member's-only section of the NTEU.org website, it may be because NTEU does not have your social security number or has not yet issued a membership number. Please contact NTEU Membership Records Coordinator Margaret Allen at 202-572-5500, ext. 7004 to find out about your membership status and get access.

Beware: Computer "Ransomware" Impersonates OPM

According to Phishme and Fedscoop, there's a new piece of computer Malware that can infect your computer that appears to come from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. According to Phishme, the thieves send an email to unsuspecting users "that cite[s] the purported detection of 'suspicious movements' in the victim’s bank account that were detected by the US Office of Personnel Management." The emails ask the recipient to "examine the attached scanned record," which is a file that, if opened, infects the recipients computer.

The Malware, dubbed "ransomware,"....

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NTEU Celebrates Veterans

NTEU has many veteran members. Each of our veterans makes an important contribution to NTEU and EPA and deserves to be celebrated. We have found, however, that frequently there's a bias against veterans at EPA regardless of the laudatory things said around veterans day. So if you're in a position to hire a veteran at EPA, please do. And if you're not, please take the time to thank your veteran colleagues for their service.

OPM Changing Credit Monitoring Providers

Nearly all of us were affected by OPM's data breach where they revealed social security numbers and finger prints of some 21.5 million individuals due to inadequate security on their network. As a result of this data breach, they provided credit monitoring services to any affected individual.

Recently, OPM announced that one of their providers will no longer provide services, and anyone using that provider will be allowed to switch to OPM's other provider. Here's OPM's announcement in full....

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Administrative Leave Available for Voting

You may have seen management's email this week on getting administrative leave to go vote. The NTEU Collective Bargaining Agreement specifies in Article 23, Section 2, that you "may arrive for work three hours after the polls are open or leave work three hours before the polls close, whichever requires the lesser amount of time."  And if this general rule does not allow you sufficient time to vote, you "may be excused for such additional time as may be needed to enable him/her to vote."

You must let your supervisor know in advance, however.

Below is the full text of the All-Hands email....

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Telework Available for New Employees During Safetrack

Prior to today, EPA limited who could telework to those employees that had been with EPA for not less than 90 days - six months, at the supervisor's discretion. In other words, you had to work for EPA for at least 90 days before you could even request telework.

Today Chapter 280 signed an agreement with EPA that allows new employees to begin teleworking immediately, with supervisor approval, if they've been impacted by Metro's Safe Track repairs. NTEU Chapter 280 has been negotiating this and other Safe Track-related flexibilities with the agency in an effort to minimize the impacts of the track work on its members. It's been difficult, and the agency has not been very cooperative, but on this issue they agreed.

Specifically,...

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Women More Ethical Than Men?

For the attorneys in our membership, there's a fascinating new study by Scholars at UCL Faculty of Laws, Cardiff University, Northwestern University and the University of Tulsa that shows a tendency of female law students to be more ethical than their male counterparts.

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Federal Benefits "Open Season" & Free Consumer's Checkbook Plan Comparison

How to get your free Washington Consumer's Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

How to get your free Washington Consumer's Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

Once a year the federal government lets its employees make changes to their health, dental, and vision plans and flexible spending accounts without having what's known as a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, birth, death, or other qualifying event. This once-a-year time to change is known as "open season" in fed-speak.

This year's open season runs from November 14 to December 12, 2016.

But how do you decide which health plan is right for you? As a benefit of being an NTEU member, NTEU provides free access to the Washington Consumer's Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, which normally costs $10 per person. This excellent, easy-to-use guide takes you through a few simple steps to find the best health plan for you and your family. Find every plan available to you ranked by estimated out-of-pocket costs and more.

Not a member of NTEU, visit our Join page and sign up now to get your free health benefits guide starting November 14. The image, above, is NTEU's publication on this free access (click it to download a PDF document).

Job Openings in Office of General Counsel

OGC just announced the following openings:

ANNOUNCEMENT: EPA-OGC-2016-0011
POSITION: Attorney-Adviser, GS-0905-11/12
OFFICE: OGC
LOCATION: Washington, DC
OPENING DATE: 09/22/16
CLOSING DATE: 10/13/16
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/451246300/

ANNOUNCEMENT: EPA-OGC-2016-0012
POSITION: Attorney-Adviser, GS-0905-11/12
OFFICE: OGC
LOCATION: Washington, DC
OPENING DATE: 09/22/16
CLOSING DATE: 10/13/16
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/451247700/

ANNOUNCEMENT: EPA-OGC-2016-0013
POSITION:  Law Clerk, GS-0904-11
OFFICE: OGC
LOCATION: Washington, DC
OPENING DATE: 09/22/16
CLOSING DATE: 10/13/16
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/451248400/

ANNOUNCEMENT: EPA-OGC-2016-0014
POSITION: Law Clerk, GS-0905-11
OFFICE: OGC
LOCATION: Washington, DC
OPENING DATE: 09/22/16
CLOSING DATE: 10/13/16
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/451249500/

Why is NTEU Suing OPM?

Image courtesy Nextgov.com (AP Photo by Susan Walsh)

Image courtesy Nextgov.com (AP Photo by Susan Walsh)

Members periodically inquire about why NTEU is suing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management over the massive data breach, thought to be perpetrated by Chinese hackers. The lawsuit was filed to protect members’ constitutional right to informational privacy, which OPM violated by failing to properly secure the records, despite numerous warnings about security deficiencies from OPM’s inspector general.

How bad was the problem and what did OPM know and conceal? A House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report, "accuses OPM of misleading the public and Congress about the breaches to play down the fallout — criticizing the agency for its claims that the two cyber attacks were not connected and not proactively announcing the first breach when it was uncovered in 2014," according to The Washington Post. The article also notes that the problem was imminently preventable, noting that "numerous inspector general reports ... raised the alarm about the agency's digital security before the hacks," according to The Post.

Among other relief requested by NTEU in its lawsuit, NTEU wants the court to order OPM to provide lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection for any NTEU member affected by the cyber attacks and to take corrective measures to improve its information technology security. Lifetime credit monitoring is the least the government should do for this instance of gross OPM negligence. We all devote our lives to protecting human health and the environment, so we should be able to expect that the Office of Personnel management is protecting our information, and if they aren't, that they take care of protecting us after the breach.

But OPM doesn't want to protect you. Rather than OPM stepping up and doing what's right and providing long-term credit monitoring, OPM is seeking to dismiss the NTEU lawsuit. Oral argument on the OPM Motion to Dismiss is scheduled oral argument for Oct. 27. More on the NTEU lawsuit here.