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Federal Employees News Digest : Nov. 19, 2012
November 19, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 19 3 visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com Unions push back "The president and Congress have a great deal on their plate with the seques- tration deadline approaching so quickly," National Federation of Federal Employees President William R. Dougan said in a statement. "We're reaching out to as many elected officials as we can to explain just how devastating an effect this would have on federal employees. This is our No. 1 pri- ority right now. We cannot allow seques- tration to happen." National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley sounded a simi- lar note. "It would be harmful to our nation if federal employees and their agencies are looked to for further cuts, including higher contributions to employee pen- sions and severe budget cuts, in light of the significant contributions they already are making," Kelley said. The American Federation of Government Employees noted in a state- ment issued after the election that those aiming to close the budget gap exclusively by way of cuts are pulling out all the stops in their efforts to lobby Congress and influence the public---including launch- ing new lobbying groups that oppose any tinkering on the revenue end of the equation. AFGE characterized such efforts as "repackaging the Romney tax plan," which the union said would shift the burden away from the "wealthiest 2 per- cent" and onto an already badly burdened middle class, including federal employees. "The American people rejected this tax plan on Election Day," AFGE presi- dent J. David Cox said. "They said 'no' to eliminating the mortgage interest deduc- tion and having to pay income taxes on the value of employer-sponsored health insurance. They said 'yes' to tax fairness, including plans to restore Clinton-era tax rates to high earners, unearned income and corporate profits" Avoiding a 'grand bargain' "AFGE has been coordinating with the AFL-CIO in a range of activities," Jacqueline Simon, public policy director for the union, told FEND. "We are mak- ing sure that any so-called 'grand bargain' that people are talking about doesn't end up involving any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits---and that it doesn't ask for any further cuts from federal employees." Simon---echoing statements issued by her union---slammed various parts of proposed cuts that would harm feds. She noted that with the fiscal cliff looming, there are those on the Hill pushing to cut Social Security benefits, raise the retire- ment age for Social Security, reduce the cost of living adjustments to those bene- fits, "voucherize" Medicare, and even add three more years to the federal pay freeze. "All these proposals are part of the Ryan budget [plan]---which we oppose," Simon told FEND. "We are not resigned to any further cuts. Events will dictate what we do next. We are lobbying lawmakers, we are lobbying the administration, talking to the press, doing all we can. "We've already given over $103 billion over a 10-year span," Simon explained, referring to the long-term costs of the pay freeze and other cuts. "In fact, we're the only group of Americans who have given at all, and it's time to look elsewhere for any cuts." Simon clarified that she doesn't believe that the White House has weakened in its support of federal employees now that the election is over. But she also noted that the Obama White House's own budgets have included some heavy sacrifices for federal employ- ees---from imposing the pay freeze to calling on feds to pony up 2.3 percent more toward their retirement benefits. Furthermore, the White House has announced it will delay the end of the pay freeze until April 2013---at the earliest. In light of those facts, AFGE and other unions have stiffened their stance. "We are adamantly opposed to any more cuts for us," Simon said. "Not another dime." Security officers vote to ratify contract with TSA The union that represents airport screeners announced Nov. 9 that those employees have voted to ratify the first collective bargaining agreement at the Transportation Security Administration. The American Federation of Government Employees said the screeners, or transportation security officers, ratified the agreement between AFGE and the TSA on a vote of 17,326 to 1,774. "This union contract is 11 years in the making," AFGE National President J. David Cox said in a statement. "Through every battle, every testimony on the Hill, every meeting with management, every union event, every sleepless night, and every rally, AFGE and these TSA officers never lost focus on making this contract a reality." Among other things, AFGE said the agreement will provide improved uniforms and permit uniform variations to account for weather and temperature; provide a greater consistency on issues like annual leave bidding and shift trades; and improve the process for shift bidding and move- ment between full- and part-time. The agreement will cover approximate- ly 44,000 TSA employees, TSA said. "The completion of today's agreement between TSA and AFGE is a milestone in our relationship with our workforce and AFGE," said TSA Administrator John Pistole. "Together, we will continue to secure our nation's transportation systems and keep the traveling public safe." The collective bargaining agreement will be implemented Dec. 9, 30 days from the date of ratification, and will remain in effect for a period of three years, TSA said. TSOs screen approximately 1.8 mil- lion travelers each day at more than 450 airports across the country, according to the agency. 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.
Nov. 12, 2012
Nov. 26, 2012