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Federal Employees News Digest : Nov. 12, 2012
November 12, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 18 3 visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com winds and rain, and federal employees who live in the area are dealing with similar damage to their homes." Other federal unions also pressed their members to chip in. The American Postal Workers Union asked members to donate to the Postal Employees Relief Fund (www. postalrelief.com), and mourned the loss of one of its own, APWU officer Leonard Montalto of Staten Island. "We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life," APWU President Cliff Guffey said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lenny's family and co-workers, and to all those who lost loved ones in this horrific event." Individual feds, union locals, pitch in "Between Thursday [Nov. 1] to Monday [Nov. 5], we transferred a huge amount of supplies from the North Shore of Staten Island over to the South Shore area, where it's needed," Shaun O'Connell, a GS-12 Disability Examiner for the Social Security Administration and a vice president of AFGE Local 1760 covering the New York City metro area, told FEND. Most of O'Connell's unof- ficial efforts---such as transporting supplies to storm victims---were done as part of a group called the Sons and Daughters of Erin, with the cooperation of a local bar that the group used as a temporary warehouse. O'Connell, like many feds, has found his workplace as disrupted as his home. Normally, he and his colleagues work at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan, but---with the building's boilers still nonfunctioning after Sandy's tidal surge sub- merged them---as of Nov. 6 he has been reas- signed to a federal office on Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. The move enabled O'Connell and several colleagues to station themselves next door to FEMA workers, and to open for regular business and provide documents to victims very near the storm's worst damage. O'Connell told FEND he feels both the offi- cial and the off-duty and union efforts of feds are going reasonably well. "A lot of the professional relief workers, mostly with FEMA, are not from the area--- and that may give them more clarity on some of the problems," O'Connell said. "It's a good match, a good mix, of people---you have people like me who are local and doing a lot of informal help, and you have the professionals who are not as emotionally attached." O'Connell added that, for instance, "the professionals with FEMA could move large amounts of things" whereas locals, such as himself, could get around nearby New York neighborhoods, making deliveries to indi- vidual homes---what he called "micro-drops." At one point, for example, O'Connell and his co-volunteers moved and unloaded deliver- ies from a seven-ton truckload of supplies brought in by the Utah National Guard. "Somebody needs this item---say Pampers or whatever, and we could do it," O'Connell said. "We know the neighborhoods, and where people are." But O'Connell also offered some criticism of official preparations for the storm---notably the words used in the warnings by govern- ment at all levels. "I think that if officials had told people the effects of this storm would be like a tsu- nami, specifically, instead of comparing it to Hurricane Irene---I think a lot of the surprise of its power and some of the losses could have been avoided," O'Connell told FEND. "I think people would have moved on that a little quicker." SSA employee and AFGE member Lynn Kelly, who works with O'Connell, also pro- vided unofficial aid to storm victims. "What I've been doing is pretty low-key," Kelly told FEND. "My own house is flooded and we had no heat or hot water---but my daughter and I went around the neighbor- hood looking for people who needed things in Far Rockaway and Garretsen Beach. People needed toiletries and bleach, and so we took them to donation sites." Kelly has joined with neighbors and others to distribute needed food and cleaning sup- plies. Her next step is to help gather together and send more supplies to other "totally dev- astated" areas, and perhaps "help shovel out sand." "I know there's a lot of anger," Kelly said, noting that some people were very upset at the scale of the damage and the level of continuing problems in getting gasoline, elec- tricity and other supplies---and that some of this comes from being in areas that did not expect---at all---to be flooded. "Remember, there are people here who are living without heat and hot water," Kelly said. "From my perspective, I would say that FEMA and others are doing the best that they can. It's a process and some people are having a hard time with the concept of this process." continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. Fed unions refocus on Congress With the reelection of President Obama, federal employee unions turned their attention once again to Congress, which is scheduled to recon- vene after Veterans Day to finish out a lame duck session. In a statement, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox, Sr., said that his organization would begin to work- ing with the president and Congress "to pursue a legislative agenda that protects and preserves our vital gov- ernment services and programs and recognizes the substantial sacrifices that federal employees and agencies already have made toward reducing the deficit." National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley highlighted some of those issues the morning after the election. These included work- ing to ensure that the federal civilian pay raise planned for April is made retroactive to the beginning of 2013, and heading off any additional budget- cutting measures that would further harm employee interests such as pay and pensions. "It would be harmful to our nation if federal employees and their agencies are looked to for further cuts, includ- ing higher contributions to employee pensions and severe budget cuts, in light of the significant contributions they already are making," she said in a statement.
Nov. 5, 2012
Nov. 19, 2012