New York Times Wrong About EPA Unions

EPA has five different unions, all with its own leadership, something that the New York Times incorrectly overlooked in a recent story. The unions at EPA include the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), the Engineers and Scientists of California (ESC), and the National Association of Independent Labor (NAIL). Each of these five unions is organized differently, some with "chapters" and some with "locals."  The authority of chapters and locals varies according to the constitution and bylaws of each union.

NTEU Chapter 280 represents "professionals" at EPA headquarters. Put another way, we represent all people who have a job that requires positive education. If your job requires that you have a degree, you're in the NTEU Chapter 280 bargaining unit, although not a member unless you join. If your job does not require a degree, then at headquarters you are in the AFGE Local 3331 bargaining unit, even if you have a degree. The test is whether or not your degree is required by your job. At EPA headquarters, therefore, there are two unions:  NTEU Chapter 280 and AFGE Local 3331.

The NY Times story incorrectly reported that the AFGE Council President represented all EPA employees. This is wrong.  Mr. John O’Grady, a biochemist in EPA's Region 5 office and President of the AFGE Council at EPA, only represents AFGE bargaining unit employees. The Times story overlooked all the employees represented by NTEU, NAIL, NAGE, and ESC. At headquarters, NTEU Chapter 280 represents approximately 1700 professionals. Nationwide, NTEU represents even more.

We expect more from the NY Times. We hope the Times runs a correction of this error.

Rally at U.S. Capitol

Please join NTEU members from across the country as we rally at the U.S. Capitol for fair pay, a secure retirement, and respect.

The rally happens:

when:  Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
where:  U.S. Capitol, West Front Lawn

Use your lunch time to rally. Anytime over your normal lunch period is considered non-work time and should be accounted for through leave, credit hours, or other absence time.

We really need you to come for this. Now, more than ever it's important that EPA employees stand together.

NTEU 280 Appoints Scientific Integrity Officer

NTEU Chapter 280 led the effort for EPA to recognize scientific-integrity principles in the 90s. The Chapter's efforts ultimately led to Administrator Carol Browner agreeing to the Principles of Scientific Integrity in 1999. These principles include ensuring that employees:

  • perform work of the highest integrity;
  • represent their own work fairly and accurately;
  • represent and acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others;
  • avoid financial conflicts of interest and ensure impartiality in the performance of scientific duties;
  • be cognizant of and understand the specific programmatic statutes that guide their work;
  • accept the affirmative responsibility to report any breach of these principles; and
  • welcome differing views and opinions on scientific and technical matters as a legitimate and necessary part of the process to provide the best possible information to regulatory and policy decision-makers.

The principles, above, apply also to EPA management and political officials. Given recent attacks on science, the Chapter is now creating a Chapter Scientific Integrity Officer. The Officer will be responsible for leading the Chapter's scientific-integrity committee, meeting with EPA scientific-integrity officials, identifying suspected scientific-integrity violations, and updating the Chapter's Executive Board on scientific-integrity issues. 

By placing this renewed emphasis on scientific integrity, Chapter 280 will ensure its scientist members are protected from attacks for doing their job, and will help ensure that EPA continues protecting human health and the environment.

If you are a member of Chapter 280 and are interested in serving on the Chapter's Scientific Integrity Committee, please email a statement of why you are interested to President Diane Lynne by clicking here.

No Heat? You Can Telework!

Many of you received an email from facilities and/or your management over the last couple of days about the lack of heat in certain parts of the William Jefferson Clinton North and South buildings. We are told that the heating outage will not be resolved until next week. That means it will get mighty cold in your office and make it uncomfortable or unsafe to work there.

So what can you do?

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Hiring Freeze Guidelines

On Tuesday, January 31, the U.S. Offices of Personnel Management (OPM) and Management and Budget (OMB) issued supplemental guidance on President Trump's recent hiring freeze memorandum. The memorandum supplements prior guidance issued January 25, 2017.  The new memo lists a number of exceptions to the hiring freeze.  The following exceptions potentially apply to EPA:....

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Out of the Lab and Into the Streets

On April 22, 2017, scientists in San Francisco and Washington, DC, will take to the streets in support of science and scientific integrity. According to the March's website:

The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.

To find out more about the march, visit the march's website here.

Seth Low, Former Chapter Senior VP Passes Away

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Seth Low, longtime member and former Senior Vice President of NTEU Chapter 280 passed away recently. Seth served Chapter 280 as the Senior VP, a former Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (now Office of Land and Emergency Management) Steward, and Editor of the Chapter’s old Inside the Fishbowl newsletter from October 2003 to June 2006.

Seth provided guidance and advice to NTEU Chapter 280 members on a broad range of subjects, including the Collective Bargaining Agreement, grievances, and civil rights processes and procedures. He was especially proud of helping members resolve issues without needing to file a grievance.

Seth participated in NTEU National training for leadership, representation, and steward programs and provided a sympathetic ear to employees with workplace issues. NTEU continues to grow and strengthen due to the individual efforts of people like Seth, who step forward into leadership roles to help safeguard the rights of fellow employees.

Chapter 280 expresses its sincere condolence to Seth's family.

 

 

Hiring Freeze Memorandum Recognizes Union Collective Bargaining Agreements

By now you've probably heard about President Trump's executive memorandum freezing federal hiring. Key features of the memorandum include:

  1. freezes federal hiring indefinitely until the Office of Management and Budget implements "a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government's workforce through
    attrition[;]"
  2. notes that the above-referenced memorandum shall be developed (although not necessarily implemented) within 90 days;
  3. does not allow contracting out to circumvent the hiring freeze;
  4. applies to all agencies except the military;
  5. allows hiring for "national security or public safety responsibilities[;]" and
  6. does not abrogate any collective bargaining agreement.

The memorandum contains a couple of encouraging items. First, it specifically recognizes union collective bargaining agreements, something that the President did not have to do. Second, it notes that reductions in the size of government will occur through "attrition," not other more draconian measures such as involuntary reductions in force (RIF).

Chapter 280 President Diane Lynne noted that "the hiring freeze adds to the already low morale at the Environmental Protection Agency. Since it's unclear how long the hiring freeze will last," she noted, "I have concerns whether EPA will be able to meet its obligation to protect the public in the longer term."

While reported in the press as an Executive Order, the document is styled as a presidential memorandum, not an Executive Order despite the wording that the President "order[s] a freeze on the hiring of Federal civilian employees..."

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.