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Legislative Updates

House of Representatives

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Holds Day-Long Markup Hearing on Chairman Shuster’s AIRR Act (H.R. 2997)
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

House Republicans pushed through committee, in a 32-25 vote, a six-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that includes a plan to hand over the operations and regulation of the nation’s air traffic control system to private corporation. Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), and author of the dangerous and profiteering AIRR Act (H.R. 2997), hopes the bill gets to the House floor next month. However, it is likely that the bill will face opposition from other House Republicans.
 
Although the privatization plan is supported by President Trump, Republicans in the Senate have also voiced opposition to the idea, and have discussed a bill (S. 1405) introduced last week which doesn't include the spinoff proposal. In fact, some Republicans Senators have said the spinoff provision is simply unacceptable.
 
On Tuesday, the markup hearing for Shuster’s bill drew 86 amendments and lasted more than nine hours. Of the 18 roll call votes, all but one were on Democratic amendments. Ranking Member Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR) repeatedly portrayed what he called negative repercussions of the spinoff as he made the case for amendments. That included the likelihood that the private organization's board eliminating the ticket tax, which airlines dislike, while making up for the lost revenue by instead implementing a tax levied on passengers.
 
Earlier in the day, Republicans rejected, 24-34, an amendment that would erase the section of Shuster’s bill that would privatize air traffic control operations in FY 2021. The DeFazio amendment would have substituted a Democrat-backed bill (H.R. 2800) that would keep air traffic control operations under the federal government while making the FAA’s budget independent of the appropriations process.
 
Under a private corporation—one controlled by the major airlines—air traffic efficiency and safety risks will grow as the major airlines will place more planes in the air in the pursuit of profit. If the AIRR Act passes, the federal workforce that now oversees the air traffic control system will become private sector employees under the control of the airlines. There is little doubt that this move will result in reduced pay, cuts to training programs, and lower safety standards. Although this private corporation will tout the saving of tax dollars, airlines will pass along any costs to flying passengers who will decide fees per ticket without the oversight or consent of Congress as currently required.
 
NFFE National President Randy Erwin has consistently voiced his opposition to privatization.
 
“The United States has the safest, largest, and most complex aviation system in the world and that system should continue to be operated solely for the public’s benefit and safety, not for the benefit of wealthy airline CEOs that will operate the privatized system,” stated Randy Erwin, NFFE National President. “This legislation is offensive to every American because it will trade safety for airline profits. There is no other reason to privatize the air traffic control system.”  Erwin continues, “NFFE is working hard with its union coalition partners and with like-minded industry partners to stop this dangerous and profiteering legislation that destroys air travel safety and airline competitiveness.”
 
The current aviation authorization deal expires on Sept. 30. Until a new authorization bill is passed, NFFE will continue to fight the dangerous and profiteering AIRR Act (H.R. 2997), and the privatization of America’s air traffic control system.  


Read the union coalition’s letter to the Committee, here.
Read NFFE’s FAA privatization position paper, here.


Urged by NFFE, House Democrats Deliver Letter to Leadership Opposing Cuts to Federal Employee Retirement
Monday, June 19, 2017 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

On Wednesday June 14th, 112 Democratic Representatives sent a letter addressed to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to express their “strong opposition to President Trump’s assault on the salaries and pensions of middle class federal employees, retirees, and their families to pay for tax cuts for billionaires, as proposed in his Fiscal Year 2018 budget request.”
 
At the urging of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and its coalition partners, Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) led the effort, stating that their disapproval with the budget was due to four policy changes that would take away almost $150 billion from current federal employees and retirees, affecting over 2.1 million people and their families. The proposed changes include requiring federal employees to pay more towards their retirement fund, eliminating COLAs for current and future FERS retirees, basing retirement benefits on the average of the highest 5 years of salary instead of the current 3, and eliminating supplements for employees who retire before the age of 62, when they can collect Social Security. 
 
The letter emphasizes that by altering long-standing policies that families have planned their lives around, President Trump is breaking promises that he made to middle class Americans, federal employees and retirees. The President wants to unfairly sacrifice the earned income of hardworking public servants in the name of “deficit reduction,” while America’s wealthiest families will be getting a tax break in exchange.
 
“President Trump campaigned on being a champion for working people and protecting people’s retirement,” stated Randy Erwin, NFFE National President.  “Now, in his first opportunity to make good on those promises, he is throwing working people under the bus and gutting their retirement. We believe this may be the single largest attack on a group of workers’ retirement in our nation's history.”
 
“The federal government is the leading employer in many states, so these cuts will hit state and local economies very hard as families try to deal with the downturn,” Erwin continued. “These proposed pension cuts are unconscionable. Under no circumstance will gutting middle-class federal employees’ retirement security to make way for billionaire tax cuts make America great again.” 
 
Congress is fully aware that federal employees have sacrificed more than any other group in the name of budget reduction, although harming these workers harms the nation as a whole as well. Everyday federal employees do their jobs in order to serve their country, whether it be through protecting their fellow citizens from threats or disease, caring for our veterans, facilitating safe air travel, making sure people receive fair and impartial justice, or preserving the countries clean air, water, and land. They are vital to the success of America.  
 
The letter concludes with a powerful, honest statement:
 
“After dedicating their careers to public service, federal employees and retirees deserve much better from us. Therefore, we will oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of public servants, and we urge you to stop legislation from being brought to the House floor that would undermine and demoralize our federal workforce.”


 

Lawmaker Looks to Expedite Federal Firings, Demotions and Pay Cuts
Eric Katz, Govtexec.com, March 2017

A conservative lawmaker introduced legislation this week to expedite the disciplinary process throughout the federal government, allowing agency heads to more quickly fire, demote or cut the pay of their employees. Read more here.


The Holman Rule: Planting the Seeds of Corruption
Friday, January 6, 2017 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

Dating back to the late 1800s, the Holman Rule is a poorly crafted piece of legislation that provides individual House members with wide latitude to amend appropriations bills on the floor of the House.  The rule also expands what can be amended on the floor, including changes to a specific agency, office, program, or salary of a single position or of the whole agency.  After decades of dormancy, the Holman Rule was recently resurfaced by Virginia Representative Morgan Griffith (VA-9).  This rule is the choice vehicle for ethically corrupt members of congress who seek to purge the operational funding of agencies and programs that run counter to their outside political interests (such as law or regulatory enforcement agencies that keep industry captains and the most powerful people in check). 

In addition, it creates an overlay threat of micromanagement of the Executive Branch by individual members of congress rather than through the proper committee process.  The Holman Rule destroys congressional transparency and the right of ethical members of congress to perform their duties as mandated by the American people to appropriate the federal government through hearings, substantive debate and study, and testimony by professional witnesses. 

Simply put, any member of congress that supported inclusion of the Holman Rule in the House rules package (the resolution that governs the chamber’s legislative processes) made a public declaration that he or she will place political favors over ethics and transparency and possibly the law.  This rule can do much more than devastate the effectiveness of the federal government and its workforce.  It can destroy our intelligence and defense capabilities, compromise fair banking and commerce, threaten our international prowess, and collapse regional infrastructure and community projects at the whim of one outlier member of congress.     

See if your representative voted for the Holman Rule (here) and tell your Representative to oppose any use of the Holman Rule during any appropriations considerations on the floor of the House.  Any response from your representative other than a full commitment to fight and defeat any use of the Holman Rule is equivalent to a pledge for corruption through the degradation of ethics, transparency and the Constitutional duty of congress to properly fund and administer the United States of America in the legitimate interest of the American people.

Do not be fooled by claims that the Holman Rule is in the interest of cost-savings.  The Holman Rule is nothing more than an expressway for the politically corrupt to commandeer the capability of the Executive Branch from performing its legal duties, which not only creates a potential violation of Separation of Powers but also it serves as a very un-American attack on upholding a government of, by and for the people.  A vote for the Holman Rule was a vote for corruption regardless of the excuse they give, and it empowers the enemies of American communities, working people and law-abiding businesses across the country.


Bill Introduced to Make Federal Employees At-Will Workers
Thursday, October 6, 2016 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

On September 28, 2016 Representative Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) introduced H.R.6278, a bill aimed at dismantling the statutory due process protections afforded to federal employees by making them at-will employees. Becoming an at-will worker means several of the protections enjoyed by federal employees would disappear, including the right to appeal suspensions or terminations. Additionally, the bill seeks to prevent federal employees from earning a salary while conducting legally-mandated employee representation work on Official Time.

What Representative Rokita and too many of his colleagues in the House of Representatives assume is that by stripping dedicated civil servants of their right to due process proceedings, the government would inexplicably become more efficient. In reality, the due process protections federal employees receive were established with the specific purpose of increasing government efficiency and protecting against political patronage systems. Representative Rokita's bill would allow for federal managers to fire any employee at any time for any reason. Anything from a disagreement over sports allegiances to ideological differences, leaving the terminated employee no option for appeal. Worse yet, managers could fire entire departments only to replace employees with friends and families. This bill would be an unprecedented step backwards in governance and could potentially put the American taxpayer at risk of losing fundamental government services. 

What Representative Rokita refers to as an attempt to make government more efficient is so laughably misguided, it is no wonder he introduced the bill right before Congress went on recess. Representative Rokita knows he cannot logically defend his bill, and he is afraid of being pressed by NFFE-IAM members and our allies on the Hill and in the media to explain himself. 

"This bill would certainly undermine the effects of laws, regulations and other safeguards that federal employees have," said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. "This bill is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who get up every day and do the business of our government and our nation, from taking care of our veterans, to putting their lives on the line to protect our communities and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfires. It demeans their valuable contributions and flies in the face of the concept of good government.  It will have a deleterious effect on the ability of the government to attract, and retain, workers with the talent and skills needed in the future. Mr. Rokita and the supporters of this bill need to go back to the drawing board and spend their time solving real problems instead of continuing to attack federal employees."

TAKE ACTION
Federal employees and NFFE-IAM members can do something about this outrageous attack on due process. United, we must let Representative Rokita know why his bill is bad for government efficiency, transparency and puts the American taxpayer at risk of losing critical government services. 
Call Representative Rokita and tell him you are a federal employee and you find his legislation, H.R.6278 to be outlandish and laughably misguided: (202) 225-5037*
Next, call your member of Congress and urge them to support federal employees due process protections and to oppose H.R.6278 or any other attempts to expedite or mitigate due process protections afforded to federal employees: (202) 224-3121*
*When contacting Congress, be sure to do so when not on duty time and away from your government computer.


NFFE Fights to Protect VA Members from Congress attacks

While federal employees are forced to endure attack after attack from the current anti-worker Congress, one agency has experienced a particularly toxic stream of attacks in recent years. Following a national scandal in 2014, nurses and doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have been under constant attack from Congress. While many of the attacks have been shrouded in the thin veil of "accountability measures," NFFE has fought these measures for what they really are: attempts to erode the constitutional due process protections of federal employees undergoing disciplinary proceedings. Now, Congress appears poised to take the attacks one step further with the impending vote on S. 2921, a bill overhauling how rank-and-file employees are treated by management—but not without a fight from NFFE and our allies on Capitol Hill.

Two important factors must be considered in the discussion of VA reform: First, the "accountability measures" in this legislation would not have prevented the falsifying of patient waiting lists that ignited calls for reform. Second, the rank-and-file VA medical professionals—those providing direct care for our nation’s cherished veterans—were not responsible for the recent scandals at the VA. The VA employees NFFE represents, many of them veterans themselves, are among the most dedicated employees in the federal workforce. They are fully committed to the mission of providing veterans with the highest quality care, and treating each patient with dignity and respect. The measures put forth by S. 2921 are punitive in nature, and will ultimately fail to achieve the desired reforms while simultaneously inviting a culture of fear among our veterans’ caregivers. One provision of the bill would arbitrarily extend probationary periods by 60 days unless action is taken by an employee’s supervisor. Probationary employees are incredibly vulnerable to retaliation, discrimination, and other prohibited personnel practices, all the while maintaining no appeal rights or right to advance notice of termination. The extension of probationary periods would serve no purpose other than to silence potential whistleblowers. Accountability at the VA will not increase by making employees vulnerable to adverse action for a longer period of time; rather, accountability will be eroded.

Another provision of the bill would expedite the firing process of VA employees. As we have seen with previous legislative attempts to dismantle constitutionally-protected due process rights of federal employees, this legislation would place a burden so great on the employee to appeal adverse disciplinary decisions that the Chair of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has questioned the very constitutionality of such measures. A rushed termination process hampers the agency as much as it does the employee; making legitimate adverse actions more difficult. Again, accountability will be diminished, not increased.

Supporters of this bill claim to want to increase accountability at the VA, but the provisions of this bill will do more to erode accountability than increase it. NFFE will fight for our VA members on Capitol Hill against this damaging bill.


DoD Introduces Labor-collaborated Personnel Reform Tuesday, March 29, 2016 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

In the wake of repealing the disastrous National Security Personnel System (NSPS) in 2010, Department of Defense (DoD) officials were tasked with reforming its civilian personnel management system in collaboration with its labor stakeholders. Throughout the NSPS campaign, DoD fought vigorously to unilaterally impose the personnel reforms in the face of fierce union opposition. Because of the tensions developed in the NSPS campaign, collaboration of the two sides was a daunting task. But it was no secret that DoD desperately needed to update its arcane personnel management practices, so both sides came together to work on the aptly-named reform: New Beginnings.

Representing NFFE in this collaboration was Pete Randazzo of Local 1690 (Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.). Randazzo frequently met with DoD and other union officials over a five-year period to outline a blueprint, program and rollout for the new Defense Performance Management and Appraisal program. And after years of work and collaboration, New Beginnings has finally begun its implementation phase at DoD installations around the country.

So what does New Beginnings mean for NFFE-IAM members? New Beginnings' mission is to use employee performance plans to document the link between organizational mission and goals of DoD and the contributions of individual employees to realize increased employee engagement, morale, and effectiveness. New Beginnings does away with previous performance standards and implements what is known as the SMART criteria for performance standards. Within the SMART criteria, an employee's performance is evaluated using the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART).

Another reform outlined in New Beginnings is a focus on streamlining the hiring process. Reforms include: Enhancement of existing automated hiring tools, training for supervisors and managers, providing training to improve the skills and advisory capabilities of DoD's human resource practitioner workforce, and implementing effective means of recruiting, compensating, and incentivizing the workforce. Additionally, there is a significant focus on strategic workforce planning to shape an effective workforce for today and into the future.

The Defense Performance Management system and Appraisal Program has incorporated a three-level system to rate employee performance. The three levels are: Level 1 (unacceptable), level 3 (fully successful), and level 5 (outstanding). The three-level system allows for a more objective method to distinguish between levels of performance, which will allow for more-informed discussions between the employee and supervisor to occur throughout the year.  At a minimum, performance discussions will include an initial performance planning meeting to discuss performance expectations, a mid-year performance review and a final performance appraisal.

While much tension continues to be present between labor and management within DoD due to the agency's past scorched earth campaign to institute NSPS, NFFE played a key role in developing and advising the New Beginnings System. The system will be largely positive for NFFE-IAM members and brings much-needed reform to DoD's Performance Management and Appraisal program.


House Committee Seeks to Strip Federal Employee Due Process Protections
Friday, January 15, 2016 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, conducted a legislative markup hearing that had a slew of disastrous bills forced through by the GOP-led majority on the committee. While numerous pieces of legislation considered by the committee on Tuesday are cause for concern, one bill in particular appears to be the most deceptive Trojan horse.

See more at http://www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/106590


Senate Panel Approves 10 Years of Protection Services for Hack Victims
By Eric Katz Government Executive July 23, 2015

A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure to give current and former federal employees and contractors affected by the hack of data maintained by the Office of Personnel Management protection services for 10 years, more than three times longer than OPM originally offered.

to read the full story:
http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2015/07/senate-panel-approves-10-years-protection-services-hack-victims/118473/?oref=dropdown


NFFE-Supported Bill Introduced to Provide Lifetime of Identity Protection
Thursday, July 23, 2015 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

In June, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the discovery of a data breach that compromised the personnel files of 4.2 federal employees. Following a subsequent investigation, it was revealed that private information for an estimated 22.1 million people was stolen from OPM databases. Among those affected include federal employees, contractors, security clearance applicants, and family members of those applicants.
Since the announcement of the original breach, answers from OPM have been challenging, if not impossible, to come by, often excused under the premise of “ongoing investigations.” All the while, millions of federal employees that have had their personal information compromised – at no fault of their own – continue to go without the protections they need and deserve. At every turn of this still-developing data breach, NFFE has demanded for the agency to be more transparent and responsive in addressing the widespread concerns of the federal workforce as well as outlining steps the administration can take to alleviate the problem.
Earlier this month, NFFE joined with our allies in the Senate to introduce the RECOVER Act (S. 1746). The bill, introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), calls for expanded identity theft coverage for federal workers, contractors, and other individuals affected by the OPM data breaches.  This includes lifetime identity theft coverage—something NFFE has repeatedly demanded—and that no less than $5 million of identity theft insurance be provided. These provisions will ensure that federal employees and those affected will always have the necessary protections to repair any future financial damages incurred as a result of this data breach. 
It is encouraging to see members of Congress seeking fair solutions in the face of OPM’s underwhelming response to the breach of its cyber network. NFFE will work with our allies to pass the RECOVER Act, so that federal employees, their families, and all others affected in the OPM data breach receive adequate protections at no personal expense. 
"To this point, OPM and the Administration has been slow to respond to questions from the millions of federal employees affected by OPM's data breaches," said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. "America’s dedicated civil servants deserve better than the treatment they have received. We applaud the Senators involved in drafting and introducing the RECOVER Act. Passage of the RECOVER Act will be a top priority legislative priority of NFFE in 2015." - See more at: http://nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/105637#sthash.L8bwYc9n.dpuf


House Lawmakers Introduce Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

On Monday, a group of House lawmakers held a press conference to unveil the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA), legislation providing federal employees six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. This legislation comes in the wake of President Obama’s push in recent weeks for the policy – including an executive order directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for employees with newborn or newly-adopted children. The FEPPLA was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

As it currently stands, federal employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave (that can be substituted with paid annual or sick leave) under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. While the FMLA was hailed as a momentous achievement in 1993, the U.S. needs to catch up with the rest of the developed world and provide greater flexibilities for workers who are building a family. The reality is that many federal employees simply cannot afford to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to raise a child, and that is hampering the government from recruiting and retaining top talent in the federal workforce.

There are numerous benefits to providing paid parental leave to federal employees. Studies have shown that access to paid parental leave significantly increased the likelihood that workers will return to their jobs instead of dropping out of the labor force – which reduces the cost to federal agencies of providing training to new employees and keeps federal employees with highly-specialized skillsets in the workforce. Additionally, one of the many factors leading to the pay gap between men and women is the time women spend outside of the workforce for caregiving responsibilities.

For years, NFFE has been on the front lines of Congress pushing for the passage of paid parental leave for federal employees. NFFE will work with the President, as well as members of Congress to get this family-friendly legislation passed.

"America is the only developed country in the world that does not offer its employees some sort of paid parental leave, and that is embarrassing," said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. "Congress and the President have an opportunity to lead by example by providing federal employees paid parental leave. If the federal government offers paid parental leave to its employees, that will encourage private sector employers to follow. We applaud the leadership demonstrated by President Obama and Representative Maloney. NFFE will be pushing hard in the 114th Congress to pass this legislation." - See more at: http://www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/104673/pid/176#sthash.bJE5d20u.dpuf


The Federal Workforce is Shrinking, But Congress Wants More Cuts
Friday, January 23, 2015 (National Federation of Federal Employees)

Earlier this month, the Office of Personnel Management released data on the state of the 2014 federal workforce showing that the federal government shed around 21,000 jobs in FY14. That brings the total number of federal jobs lost since 2011 to over 84,000.
Notable agency losses include the Department of Treasury losing 12.95 percent of its workforce since 2011, Department of Housing and Urban Development losing 13.47 percent and the Environmental Protection Agency losing 15.6 percent. Additionally, the Department of the Army lost 29,592 federal civilian employees since 2011, the Department of the Air Force lost 13,794, and the Department of Agriculture lost 9,209, all since 2011.
Despite the federal government shedding jobs at alarming rates, there are those in Congress that believe the cuts are not deep enough. Wednesday, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) introduced a bill aimed at cutting nearly 115,000 civilian jobs from the Department of Defense (DoD) – 15 percent of the overall civilian workforce. The proposed legislation would require the DoD to finalize the cuts by 2022 and maintain the reduced staffing levels for five years. Representative Calvert introduced nearly identical legislation in the previous session of Congress.
This legislation comes at a time when federal employees are repeatedly being used as a political punching bag, workplace morale is dropping steadily and the federal government is on track to shed a total of 100,000 jobs over a five year period. Arbitrarily forcing the DoD to make a draconian 15 percent civilian workforce cut would be devastating to both the workers directly impacted and also to the communities and families that these federal employees support. 
Many communities rely on local military installations as significant economic drivers for the regions. Military installations provide good-paying federal jobs, and in turn those workers and their families support local businesses. A 15 percent workforce reduction would send devastating shockwaves through local economies across the country where civilian defense employees live and work.
“Despite this legislation going nowhere in the previous Congress, Representative Calvert continues to push this dangerous proposal that would gut our military effectiveness and decimate communities across the country,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “We are going to fight this legislation because it is the wrong path for our country and it will once again make hard-working federal employees scapegoats for a dysfunctional Congress." - See more at: http://www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/104646/pid/176#sthash.qCvtEQDZ.dpuf


National President Dougan: "Federal Workers Have Earned a Pay Adjustment That Reflects the Increased Cost of Living."
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) plans to introduce legislation to provide federal employees a 3.8 percent pay adjustment. William R. Dougan, National President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, the oldest federal employee union representing 110,000 federal workers throughout the U.S., issued the following statement on the introduced legislation: 

"NFFE strongly supports Congressman Connolly’s bill to provide federal employees a well-earned and much-needed 3.8 percent pay adjustment in 2016. In the past two years, Congress and the President have enacted woefully insufficient one percent pay adjustments that were preceded by three years of pay freezes. In the last five years, federal employees have lost a significant amount of buying power due to pay adjustments failing to keep up with basic inflation. Congressman Connolly and the long list of influential co-sponsors of the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act of 2015 are working to address this significant problem. NFFE thanks Congressman Connolly, and we will work with the Congressman to provide this relief to a federal workforce that has had Congress attempt to balance the federal budget on their backs in recent years."

- See more at: ReleaseDetails


 

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