Members Get Free Access to Federal Health Plans Guide

As an exclusive benefit to NTEU dues-paying members, members will again have access to Consumers’ Checkbook’s online Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants, beginning the first day of the federal open season, November 12, 2018.

The guide will be available through NTEU’s web site starting November 12, www.nteu.org, in the Benefit section throughout Open Season (November 12, 2018 – December 10, 2018)….

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NTEU Supports Federal Employees Under Attack

Federal employee rights and benefits are under attack.

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The collective bargaining agreement at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expired. HHS proposed to eliminate 21 entire articles from the contract, including articles governing alternative work schedules, telework, performance appraisals, awards, and transit subsidies. HHS also proposed to exclude over 40 subjects from the grievance procedure. After only 2 ½ days, the HHS "bargaining team" declared an impasse, ending the "bargaining." This dispute will likely come before the Federal Service Impasse Panel, the panel that resolves disputes between federal agencies and unions representing federal employees. The panel's members are appointed by the President.

NTEU is pursuing measures on Capitol Hill, such as filing a bad-faith bargaining unfair labor practice grievance, in addition to the pending executive order lawsuit.

HHS' proposals mirror those that were unilaterally implemented at the Department of Education. Other NTEU represented agencies could be next. 

NTEU Members Get Free $1,000 Death & Dismemberment Insurance

In case you needed another reason to join NTEU as a member, all NTEU members are automatically covered by a $1,000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment Policy -- Free! There is no premium to be paid; the only requirement is that they remain an NTEU member in good standing.

Members can get basic policy information....

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Open Season & Free Access to Consumers' Checkbook Comparison Tool

Federal benefits "open season" started today. This is the time that federal employees may change their insurance plans without a qualifying life event. Open season runs through Monday, December 11, 2017. NTEU Members get free access to the awesome Washington Consumer's Checkbook health plan comparison tool.

Employees wishing to change their health insurance company may do so....

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Consumer's Checkbook Health Guide Access & Discounts

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NTEU members get free access to the Consumers’ Checkbook’s online guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants. This user-friendly, interactive guide allows FEHBP participants and prospective enrollees to rank and compare plans, as well as gauge plan features and flexibility based on doctor selection and other factors. It also provides information and plan comparisons for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. Currently only 2017 plans are available. 2018 plans go live in the guide on November 13, 2017, the first day of federal benefits open season.

Also, NTEU members are eligible for a 30-percent discounted subscription to Consumers’ CHECKBOOK magazine, which rates local service providers for quality and price in seven local markets. They rate the best doctors, dentists, auto repair shops, plumbers, veterinarians, carpet cleaners, roofers and much more.

If you're already a member, thank you! If you're not, click here to join now and get your discounts!

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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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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.

Pioneering Fulltime Telework at EPA (Part 2 of 2)

Since my first installment of Pioneering Fulltime Telework at the EPA back in October of 2016, there have been a lot of changes across the federal government. For the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is likely that we will be doing more with less in the years to come – smaller budgets, smaller staff, and a smaller physical footprint.

Thomas Edison said: “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” Fulltime telework has value – actually a lot of value – if it is used. The smallest expansion of fulltime telework at the EPA could save millions of taxpayer dollars while meeting and exceeding the business needs of the Agency.

Imagine if EPA encouraged just 20% of its workforce to fulltime telework, it would slash nearly 1% of its annual budget – some $45.6 million!....

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VERAs & VSIPs

As a result of the repeated attacks on federal employees from Capitol Hill, a number of members have contacted us and asked what options the agency might have to reduce the size of the federal workforce. To be clear, we have no information that anyone is planning any of these reductions, but we are posting this information because of the inquiries we received.

In the past, the agency typically avails itself of a number of options before resorting to involuntary reductions in force or RIFs. Typically those options include:

  • attrition through retirements and normal separations
  • Voluntary Early Retirement Authorities (VERA)
  • Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)

Before you dismiss the impact.....

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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.

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..."