AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
March 11, 2002
Bargaining Unit Members:
I urge you to join the Union. The dues are $13.00 per pay period. Our local Union has to send in $13.00 per month per member to the AFGE National Office. We have several grievance arbitrations coming up and an arbitration costs an average of $1500. We have grievances on the Team Award issues as well as the recent Computer Distribution issue.
Normally, Management pays our Travel and Per Diem costs on all negotiations. However, this time we have ground rules calling for the Union to pay all Travel and Per Diem costs after 10 sessions. We completed the 10th session at the last mediation session. The Contract negotiations are at the Federal Service Impasses Panel stage and we will pay our own way to all subsequent sessions. The last contract negotiations took only 5 sessions and Management complained about the waste of resources. They talked the Impasse Panel into the need for the Union to "buy in" to the idea of sharing cost. During the first negotiation session, Ed Nelson, Deputy Regional Director, announced "I can't wait to get into the Union's pockets." Well, Management was successful in their subsequent stalling tactics. They have spent more money this time when we are supposed to be a saving mode. If you think Management is really interested in saving money, witness the greater than $10,000 DCAA spent on the Plasma T.V. and satellite dish recently purchased for the Regional Office conference room.
During negotiations, the Union's position would be bolstered by having more dues paying members. Management sees only 106 members and thinks the Union only represents the views of 20% of the bargaining unit. There is strength in numbers.
Our Union is conducting a mail campaign to organize every non-Unionized Region. So far we won an election in the Western Region. I attended the ballot counting in San Francisco. Ballots will be counted in the Mid-Atlantic Region election on March 19th at the Boston Federal Labor Relations Office. I will attend the counting. We also are trying to organize the Eastern Region. We have to achieve at least a 30% showing of interest in order for the FLRA to conduct an election. The Union sent an average of 3 letters to each employee in the other regions. All of this takes large sums of money. Our goal is to have a nation-wide bargaining unit so that DCAA Headquarters will have to negotiate before making a change in working conditions. I believe many of these changes are not well thought out (i.e. laptop computers for Resident auditors). With a nation-wide unit, employees would have a greater say on a host of issues such as Flexiplace, Childcare subsidies, hours of work, TDY provisions, team awards, and the use of government office equipment.
Here are some reasons for joining the Union. I enclose a sheet from the AFGE National office as well as an SF 1187. Please sign and date the 1187 and return it in the stamped envelope.
1. Dues paying members have a greater say in what gets negotiated. The Union can, but doesn't have to, seek advice from non dues paying members on what negotiating positions to take. The Union has to represent all employees during grievance situations such as a 5 day suspension.
2. The Union does not have to represent non dues paying members in cases where the employee has a choice of representative. These are situations where the Union is not the "exclusive representative." An example of such a case is an EEO issue. In an EEO case, you have the choice of getting an attorney or other representative of your choice. In such cases, the Union could choose to represent only dues paying members. Also, if you are fired, an employee has the choice of an attorney or the Union representative. In that case, the Union could choose to represent only dues paying members.
3. There are some AFGE benefits available only to members. One benefit I have used is the AFGE Legal Service. You can get a free 30 minute consultation with one of the listed attorneys. Then, if you choose to use one of the attorneys beyond the consultation, you get a 30% discount. Other benefits include a Union Credit Card program, dental and vision benefits, loan programs, motor club, auto buying service, Accident Insurance, Life Insurance, and Family Savers Walt Disney World Hotel.
4. Many of our benefits are won through Union lobbying efforts. I don't believe we would get the pay raises we do if Unions didn't lobby Congress for higher pay raises. Last year Bush wanted a 3.6% increase. The Union lobbied for and received the higher 4.6%. This year, Bush wants a 2.6% increase. AFGE will lobby for a higher amount. Lobbying costs money. AFGE keeps a staff of 8 attorneys to fight against the erosion of our rights in court. Attorneys and court actions cost money.
5. When grievances are filed, arbitrators are the final judge of the grievance. Arbitration's typically cost about $3,000 split evenly between the agency and the Union. If a Union doesn't have enough money to take cases to arbitration, Management quickly learns that it can do whatever it wants with impunity.
Please join the Union today.