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Federal Employees News Digest : Aug 5, 2013
August 5, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 3 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com can appeal to the MSPB to reverse adverse workplace actions against them and for relief from furloughs. Each appeal is reviewed by an administrative judge, and if the appeal is denied, under some circum- stances employees can apply for a second review by the three-member board. A rising tide And the sheer number of furlough appeals filed continues to rise, Spencer told FEND. Spencer confirmed other media reports that MSPB had received just over 2,000 furlough appeals by mid- July. Then, he said, "that's changed." "Right now [July 30], we have 5,328 docketed furlough appeals for the year," Spencer told FEND. "There are another 4,534 so-far undocketed appeals. These could be appeals of any kind---but most likely almost all of them are also furlough appeals. The docketed and undocketed appeals add up to total universe of 9,862 [furlough appeals.] And it's still going up---and all but around 400 of these have come in since July 1." "Docketed" means that MSPB staff have entered it into the system and cre- ated a "case." "It also means we've looked at it enough to know whether or not it's a furlough appeal," Spencer added. In rough, round numbers, Spencer said, MSPB is on pace for about 6,000 appeals of the usual, non-furlough variety, and in addition "we are looking at about 10,000 furlough appeals---and that's just so far." Unions press members to file Major unions whose members have been furloughed are encouraging those employees to file the appeals. J. David Cox, Sr., American Federation of Government Employees president, for example, called the DOD's agencywide furlough stance illegal---and has instruct- ed affected members to file MSPB appeals. National Federation of Federal Employees President William R. Dougan also has encouraged his membership to appeal, and to otherwise mobilize against what he calls the "senseless policy" of furloughing employees as a solution to the govern- ment's budget woes. "We've had dozens---probably approaching a hundred meetings on this, or more, around the country," David Borer, general counsel for AFGE, told FEND. "People are upset. No other single group of people, other than those fur- loughed, have been asked to make these kinds of sacrifices for sequestration. A lot of them live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to lose 20 to 30 percent of their income." Borer also reminded affected employ- ees that they must file within 30 days of their "notice of furlough," or when the furlough begins, whichever is later. He also said that AFGE is encouraging its members to file as an MSPB class action wherever possible. This means employees must file in paper form---not electroni- cally---and they must note their class sta- tus. He advised furloughed employees to check AFGE's website for details. Meanwhile, MSPB finds itself with lim- ited resources just when it could use a broader footprint. Spencer noted the entire organization consists of just over 200 employees in Washington and spread across regional offices. MSPB, however, has avoided its own furloughs. "We've been able to avoid fur- loughing staff by managing funds and anticipating budget challenges in the cur- rent situation," Spencer noted. "It is a challenge to get all of this documented and take extra care of it, under the cir- cumstances." Different situation Meanwhile, the agency faces perhaps the biggest wave of filings since the now-defunct Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization strike and sub- sequent firings of the early 1980s. "There are significant differences in this wave of appeals from past examples, like the PATCO strike," Spencer said. He noted that the chairman of MSPB, Susan Tsui Grundmann, had said in recent media accounts that a major dif- ference in the PATCO strike is that all the employees involved were working for one and the same employer---the FAA. In the current instance, hundreds of thousands of employees across different agencies and offices are affected. To see more, go to: www.mspb.gov. House leaders push 'stop government abuse' bills Labor groups last week registered their opposition to a number of bills supported by House leadership which the organiza- tions said unfairly targeted federal employ- ees. The House was scheduled to consider the bills at FEND's press time. The bills are among 10 pieces of legisla- tion lawmakers were slated to consider last week during what the House leadership dubbed "Stop Government Abuse Week." The head of the National Treasury Employees Union sent House members a letter denouncing four of the bills. She called the legislative effort "a ploy aimed at scoring political points on the backs of middle-class federal employees." "The House should be addressing the indiscriminate cuts caused by sequestra- tion that are jeopardizing needed govern- ment services and slowing our economy," NTEU President Colleen Kelley wrote in the letter. "Instead, this week the House will take up a stack of bills aimed at diverting atten- tion from its inability to solve problems the public cares about, and attempt to blame and punish civil servants who are doing their best to deliver on their mis- sions with drastically reduced resources," Kelley wrote. The bills the labor leader condemned included: H.R. 2711, the Citizen Empowerment Act, which would allow any party to record 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. continued on page 4
July 29, 2013
Aug 12, 2013