News

The value of official time

Why should union stewards be allowed to use duty time to represent employees, some elected officials have asked, characterizing the practice as a waste of taxpayer money. But official time benefits our customers--the American people. Here's how:

The real value of due process

Due process in federal agencies is under attack by those who wonder: Why does it take so long to bring wrongdoers to justice? Shouldn't violators be fired instantly, not kept on administrative leave?

Their perception is that due process protects the guilty. But in fact, the opposite is true.

For an employee against whom an offense can be proven, the consequences are inevitable. Due process can only ensure that the investigation is fair, the offense is proven, and that the penalty is fair and proportionate. Due process doesn't prevent punishment of the guilty.

Benefits of union membership

Better working conditions is the main benefit of a unionized workforce. But there are individual benefits to AFGE membership as well. Check out https://www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=MemberBenefits for a list of benefits including insurance, computers, legal assistance, scholarships, pet care, travel, and discounts on a variety of goods and services.

Happy Labor Day

On this holiday, enjoy your time off and remember those who fought hard to obtain the benefits we now enjoy. AFGE's national Labor Day message, discussing the history of this holiday and the future of labor, is here: http://www.afge.org/index.cfm?contentID=4686

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First raise in four years: 1%

President Obama issued an Executive Order for GS employees to receive a 1% raise, the first since 2010. Govexec reports, "The raise will kick in on Jan. 1 and only apply to feds’ basic rates of pay. Locality pay will remain at 2013 levels." OPM's new pay tables are listed here: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2014/g...

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A budget deal--at workers' expense

Congress has passed, and the President is expected to sign, a bipartisan two-year budget agreement. The deal partly repeals some of the sequestration cuts, but requires increased pension contributions from federal employees hired on or after 1/1/2014. Those employees will have to pay 4.4% toward their pensions, but will not receive larger pensions as a result. Military retirees will also receive lower COLAs (cost-of-living adjustments) on their pensions until age 62. AFGE opposed these measures.

Federal retirement benefits under attack ... again

Govexec reports that Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) will introduce a bill to get rid of budget caps at the Department of Defense ... while cutting Social Security and federal retiree benefits (by changing the way cost-of-living increases are calculated), more than doubling the amount federal workers pay toward their pensions, and eliminating the FERS supplement for employees who retire before they are eligible for Social Security. These retirement-cutting proposals were also endorsed by President Obama in his 2014 budget.

Cuts to federal worker income: past, present and future

Rep. Marcia Fudge introduced House Resolution 388, which summarizes the sacrifices federal workers have already made as a result of budget cutting. It also provides a comprehensive summary of new proposals that have been made to cut federal worker benefits, and opposes those cuts. A tab on the page also shows the list of current cosponsors to the bill. See http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-resolution/388/text

EPA back in business

EPA reopened its doors today. The agency is aiming for back pay to appear in the October 29 paycheck. Meanwhile, employees began to dive back into their in boxes and to confront the environmental challenges that don't disappear on their own.

Back to work ... ?

The National Journal's Matt Berman is reporting:

"The director of the Office of Management and Budget has issued a statement letting furloughed employees know it's time to get back to work. Tomorrow.
"'Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM's website for further updates.'"

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