AFGE, Local 3937 - Local Business Meeting
May 12, 2021
Present were: John Pfannenstein, Nicole Duncan, Laura Novakoski, Steffen Pleiness and Jackie Walton. The meeting was held via Zoom conference call with dial-in information posted to the Members section of our Local website.
The meeting was called to order at 5:30pm, chaired by John Pfannenstein, Local President.
We currently have $92,577 in checking and $102,096 in savings. We recently did our annual retiree billing (who pay their dues in a lump sum instead of biweekly dues deductions), and for the few who didn’t pay last year or this year, we have gone ahead and removed them from membership rolls after allowing some leniency for pandemic disorganization or hardship.
President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) last month regarding collective bargaining. He places federal sector unions at the top of the pyramid and as part of his American Jobs plan to help alleviate the income inequality experienced by many Americans today, and since the decline of strong labor unions from their heyday in the 1950s. At that time, union membership was around 30% of the labor force and is now down to under 10% in all sectors. According to www.whitehouse.gov the main objective of this EO includes increasing worker power, including marginalized communities like women and people of color, and industries that are difficult to organize and that lack labor protections. We hope to serve as the example for private employers such as these. The task force will recommend within 180 days, first how to address existing policies, programs and practices; and second where are new policies and regulatory/statutory changes needed. Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh head this task force, along with heads of about 20 federal agencies. One of their goals is to grow a more inclusive middle class and advance the dignity and fair compensation that workers deserve. We certainly hope this is only the beginning of this administration’s push to advance workers’ rights, and our continued efforts legislatively may help to convince him that continuing Acting Commissioner Saul’s leadership at SSA is an impediment to our shared goals.
Andrew Seger, our 2nd VP, and John, will be participating in an online organization and representation Zoom presentation, for the Eugene, Bend and North Bend field offices on May 19th. Ralph de Juliis, Council 220 President, will give a presentation, and we will touch on other employee concerns like telework and any plans to return to the office, the FAIR Act (3.2% federal pay raise), and the Political Action Committee (PAC) into which employees can elect to contribute to support legislative efforts and towards interests of the party of their choice via discretionary allotment in Employee Express. We will send a flyer to employees via ssa.gov emails and offer a cash door prize. This will be our foray into online organizing events, and even once we return en masse to offices, this will likely be a good fit for our Local: we are comprised of the largest land mass of any of SSA’s regions, with four states including one non-continguous area (Alaska). It can be quite costly for us to make multiple on-site, small visits across the region when considering travel and lodging.
We will soon be sending out a Local President’s message to clarify the different types of leave for how employees may use Emergency Paid Leave (EPL) and the administrative leave approval that was recently announced. There is one category for accessing the vaccine, another for adverse effects from vaccination shots, and the previously announced EPL for a variety of needs. HR sent out an informational email on May 10th but ours will hopefully clarify this confusing situation. If personal leave was posted to WebTA already, an amendment will need to be posted to convert this to 060 Administrative Leave if appropriate.
There was a recent OPM/HHS initiative to solicit volunteers to help unaccompanied migrant children at the border. SSA issued a directive to the ATSC to issue blanket denials for all responding employees, while field offices had some leeway but often denied those interested based on “operational needs” as well. AFGE Council 220 submitted demands to bargain aspects of that, were denied, and have filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) claim. We also went back to Congress to let them know that SSA was not allowing this intended opportunity for humanitarian aid. We have gradually seen more employees approved, but we continue to press for more transparency and a higher approval rate.
You can stay informed about topics like these and much more by going to www.afge.org to sign up for Action Alerts to be sent via text or email so that you are informed of current legislative and political events – please do so on your personal computer or phone, not on duty time or on Agency equipment.
Jackie made a motion that we accept the minutes as written and read; Steffen seconded. Motion passed.
Laura moved to adjourn; Jackie seconded. Motion passed.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.