House & Senate Action on Budget Resolution

In a round of bad news for federal employees, the U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 71) by a vote of 219-206 that directs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to produce at least $32 billion in cuts. This committee primarily has jurisdiction over federal employee benefit programs, which is where these cuts would need to come from, translating into federal employee benefit reductions.....

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Demands to Bargain

Whenever there's a change in working conditions NTEU has a right to bargain. Depending upon what type of change and how it's rolled out, we may be able to negotiate over the scope of the change.

Sometimes management has a legal right to implement a change, however, but they still are required to bargain what's called "implementation and impact." If an announced change will impact you, please contact Chapter 280 at info@nteu280.organd let us know more about the change and how you expect it to impact you.

Keep in mind that there are very tight timeframes for telling management that we demand to bargain. So do not delay in contacting us or it might be too late!

EPA Mistakenly Increases Parking Rates

If you park in the Reagan Building garage (as part of the HQs parking program), your parking costs are not supposed to increase for October. However, we have been contacted by members who informed us that the proposed new rates were nonetheless populated in the pay.gov system.

We notified EPA about this discrepancy and he told NTEU that EPA has been correcting the errors person-by-person for the NTEU bargaining unit (members and non-members). If you find that your bill for October has increased from last month (either as an individual parker or as part of a carpool) please let us know ASAP so we can notify management and get it corrected.
 
We have demanded to bargain the proposed increase and submitted initial proposals, but negotiations have not yet been scheduled. Until negotiations are concluded, there should be no change in the parking fees.

We will keep members informed of any progress and of course any final agreement with regard to this situation. Thanks to those of you who sent me comments, information, and suggested proposals. Feel free to continue to do that and I welcome any calls to further discuss this or any other issues.

To stay up to date, please join here.

Inspector General Investigating Time & Attendance

NTEU learned today of a broad time and attendance investigation by the Inspector General's Office. We have confirmed that they are investigating employees in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, but it appears from the scope of their employee questioning that they may be investigating beyond OTAQ.

Given this broad investigation, it's essential to keep in mind several important items....

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NTEU Wins Transit Subsidy Settlement

NTEU successfully negotiated a transit-subsidy reimbursement for employees for owed back transit benefits, and the deal has now been signed.

Recall a few years back Congress increased the amount of transit subsidy for employees from $130 per month maximum to $250 per month for those with higher transit costs. Despite Congress increasing the subsidy, EPA refused to increase the benefits, costing employees thousands of dollars in lost benefits.

NTEU challenged EPA's failure and the case has now settled.  You will be able to claim your actual transit costs up to the maximum of $250 for any time after Congress increased the amount that EPA did not allow. You will have 30 days to submit your claim after EPA makes the official announcement.

We are trying to get the agency to give to employees actual amounts employees were reimbursed, but thus far have been unsuccessful. As a result, you may need to reconstruct the amounts you were paid yourself based upon your own records. We know this is difficult to do and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. But given that you could be reimbursed around $3,000, it is worth your time.

This is another benefit brought to you by NTEU. If you have not yet joined, please do so now by clicking here and filling out the SF-1187 dues withholding form. The more employees who join, the stronger we are in negotiations such as these and able to get your direct benefits.

New Chief Steward

Alan can be reached at chiefsteward@nteu280.org or 202-566-2784.

Alan can be reached at chiefsteward@nteu280.org or 202-566-2784.

NTEU Chapter 280 has chosen Alan Margolis as Chief Steward.  Beginning August 1, Alan will assume the position while transitioning out of his OGC work.  He expects to begin picking up NTEU work starting August 3, and to fully transition to NTEU work from OGC work by mid-September.

Alan has been at EPA since 1991, with all but three years spent in the Office of General Counsel.  He served as the first LGBTQ+ special emphasis program manager (SEPM) in OGC and also served on the Diversity Dialogue Committee.

We are thrilled to have such an experienced lawyer join the NTEU team!

Fitness Center Update

We've been negotiating with management and they've been negotiating with Federal Occupational Health, the contractor that runs the headquarters' fitness centers, to see if there are ways to keep the fitness centers open despite the Administrator's refusal to spend money on employee health.

We are hopeful that, working with management, we'll be able to keep open both the Potomac Yard and Federal Triangle fitness centers and that they transition to EPA not funding them will be seamless to employees.

The next update to this topic will come in a members-only email, so if you're interested in keeping abreast of the topic, join Chapter 280 now.

VERA/VSIP Update

Dues-paying members of NTEU Chapter 280 received a number of members-only emails detailing various aspects of the voluntary early retirement authority (VERA)/voluntary separation incentive payment (VSIP) process over the past several months. By now most of you, including the non-dues paying employees have learned many of the details we gave early access to for members.

The application period for VERAs and/or VSIPs is currently open. All applications must be submitted by July 26, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. To apply, visit this link.

Due to problems accessing the federal eOPF system used by EPA for personnel records, deadlines may be extended, but do not count on it. The agency is currently refusing to extend the application deadline even though you need the eOPF system to get information necessary for the application. NTEU is pushing the agency to change its position and extend the application deadline.

 

House Committee Passes EPA Budget Bill

Today the U.S. House of Representatives Interior & Environment Committee passed a funding bill for EPA, the Department of the Interior, and related agencies. The bill provides EPA a bit more than $7.5 billion, a 6.6% cut. Coupled with the 1% cut for fiscal year 2017, EPA would be down 7.6% if the bill passes and is signed into law.

There some question about whether the EPA funding bill will pass Congress. Legislators are still discussing an "omnibus" spending bill, that would lump all the non-defense agencies together. No telling what would come out of that process.

We'll keep you posted!

New Electronic Transit Enrollment Form

Click to visit EPA HQ's new transit subsidy application and renewal form.

Click to visit EPA HQ's new transit subsidy application and renewal form.

EPA finally is doing away with that cumbersome PDF transit benefits enrollment/recertification form, in favor of a web-based form.

While the form has not been officially rolled out agency wide, it can nonetheless be accessed and completed by clicking here. Submitting this form is the same as submitting the old PDF-based form.

Note that you will need to sign into EPA's Intranet, however, to access the form.

Good? Budget News...

Politico is reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives' Interior & Environment Appropriations Subcommittee "finalized a fiscal 2018 Interior and Environment spending package" with only "slight reduction in funds from current levels...."  Politico reports that the bill would give agencies covered by the spending bill, including EPA, "$31.5 billion for fiscal year 2018 compared to $32.37 billion in current funding."

While cuts to EPA's programs are likely to negatively impact environmental protection....

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Metro Fares Increase - Time to Recalculate Transit Subsidy

This week Metro raised rail and bus fares.

According to WTOP, "Rail fares would rise 10 cents at rush hour and 25 cents off-peak, including an increase for the maximum rush-hour fare to $6 and the maximum off-peak fare to $3.85. Parking fees would rise 10 cents. Bus fares will rise 25 cents, to $2. ... Express Bus fares would rise to $4.25 and airport express buses to Dulles and BWI-Marshall would rise to $7.25." It will now cost a minimum of $2.25 to ride Metrorail during peak hours and a minimum of $2 for off-peak trips.

Click the image to download the transit subsidy form.

Click the image to download the transit subsidy form.

We reached out to management on whether or not EPA will automatically include the higher fares in your transit subsidy. Unsurprisingly, it will not. The burden to ensure you're receiving the correct reimbursement under the federal transit subsidy is on you, the employee.

Download this form, fill it out reflecting the higher fares on your commute, and submit it to group_transit@epa.gov.

The cut-off date for increasing your transit subsidy benefits is the 21st of each month. Provided you submit your form before July 21, you new subsidy will take effect in August. If you miss the 21st, your subsidy will not take effect until the following month, in the case of our example, September.

Congressional Letter in Support of Feds

Yesterday, 102 Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), strongly opposing the assaults on federal pay and retirement contained in the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal.

Calling the administration’s proposals that impact the take-home pay and retirement benefits for current federal employees and retirees “destructive,” the legislators asked both congressional leaders to block any effort to bring such proposals to the House floor for votes. They pointed out that no other group has been asked to sacrifice more for deficit reduction than the federal workforce.

Federal employees have already been deprived of $182 billion in pay and benefits. The FY 2018 budget would add another $149 billion in cuts.

We appreciate these members’ support in fighting to stop pay and retirement cuts, and for holding Congress accountable to keep its promises to its workforce and retirees. Clearly, these members of Congress recognize the valuable service provided by our members to the nation. NTEU will continue to work with these members to “oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of public servants,” as the legislators wrote in their letter

To learn more about the budget and legislation, please visit the NTEU legislative action center.

 

Administrator Pruitt to Testify on Proposed Cuts at EPA

According to Politico, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will testify before the House Appropriations Interior-EPA subcommittee on Thursday, June 15 at 1 p.m. The Committee's website confirms this here.

According to Politico, "appropriators have already indicated they will not cut away EPA's budget as severely as the White House's proposal, particularly on state grants and popular programs cleaning up the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and other regions."

Of course, even if the cuts are half as bad as what is proposed, a 15% cut could be devastating to EPA's programs, personnel, and ultimately environmental protection.

POSTPONED: Discussion with EPA's Scientific Integrity Official

***DUE TO AN ILLNESS, DR. GRIFO HAS POSTPONED TUESDAY'S DISCUSSION***

original message: 

NTEU 280 encourages its members to join EPA's Scientific Integrity Official, Dr. Francesca T. Grifo, to discuss scientific integrity issues that concern them. The discussion occurs June 6, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. EDT in Room 5020, William Jefferson Clinton North Building.
 
In addition to Dr. Grifo, EPA’s Whistleblower Ombudsman, Steven Alderton, will also be there to discuss his role and share information related to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

For more details, visit the Intranet announcement here.

Cutting Federal Pension System Would Add to Nation’s Retirement Crisis

The administration’s forthcoming budget proposal for 2018 is expected to include devastating cuts to the retirement benefits of federal employees, marking yet another unwarranted attack on middle-class civil servants that the National Treasury Employees Union will strongly oppose.
 
The proposed changes will cut the pay of federal employees by increasing their retirement contributions repeatedly for consecutive years. This would easily negate....

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Congressional Review Act

Roll Call ran an interesting article today on the Congressional Review Act and its possible use beyond the CRA's normal 60-legislative-day limit. Recall that the CRA allows Congress to veto an agency's rule before the rule goes into effect, provided that Congress acts to veto it before the end of 60 legislative days.

The article notes....

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What's Better Than Chocolate? Paid Parental Leave.

This Mother’s Day, what’s better than flowers and chocolate?

Paid parental leave.

Every day, we ask our mothers to do more than their fair share. Now let’s give them the respect they deserve and the time they need to stay healthy, bond with their children, and be successful at home and in the workplace.

Join NTEU in standing behind the mothers who are also dedicated federal employees.

Visit NTEU.org to support paid parental leave.