RELIGIOUS REFUSALS TO DO WORK

QUESTION: When can an employee demand that he or she not be required to perform certain tasks?  ANSWER: When performance of the work conflicts with the employee’s religious convictions and it is reasonable for the employer to accommodate the employee the agency likely would be required to let the employee avoid the task. Continue reading

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YIKES! SOMEONE CALL IVANKA. STAT!

The FSIP appears to have turned into a treasonous entity. Since Jared is busy putting the finishing touches on peace in the Mideast, Ivanka seems to be the next most powerful person to alert.  In a recent decision dealing with official time the Panel uttered what can only be read as hearsay.  It said that in disputes involving official time it is not going to adopt an agency’s position in the absence of actual data or evidence. What are they going to do next?  Stay at other than a Trump hotel when in DC? How insulting to the President that his staff is expected to provide evidence to back up their statements. Continue reading

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TRUMP PICKS ON THE DISABLED;  HIS BASE PURGES THEM

Few will forget how our Leader mocked a reporter during the campaign for being disabled.  For those who thought that suggested a man with a low opinion of the disabled, here are some stats to fill out your thinking on his predisposition toward the disabled.  In 2017, the federal government fired 2,626 full-time employees with disabilities, according to documents from the EEOC obtained by NBC News. That marks a 24 percent increase from 2016. There also has been a 20 percent increase since Jan. 1, 2017, in the number of disability discrimination complaints filed by federal employees of cabinet-level agencies, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the EEOC.   The President does not fire or discriminate against these folks himself.  That is done by his appointees, who are drawn from his political base. You can draw your own conclusions, but we also hope union leaders realize that there is a great need for skilled reps among the disabled.  So, get out there and train your stewards in the basics of disability discrimination and try to recruit new stewards from among the disabled. Better yet, open up conversations with the associations representing the disabled.  You both need each other.

Posted in EEO/Disabilities | Tagged | 1 Comment

CAN FSIP DENY A UNION THE RIGHT TO BARGAIN OVER UNSPECIFIED FUTURE CHANGES?

Not long ago Trump’s Panel ruled that an agency was free to determine the amount of the annual wage increase in each year of the new, multi-year agreement without bargaining with the union. The agency did not have to give the union advance, specific notice of the amount nor bargain over the impact and implementation. Moreover, having given the agency limitless discretion, the union had virtually no way to grieve the figure the agency picked. According to the Panel, the union was to sit there throughout the life of the agreement and take whatever increase the agency deigned to bestow on the employees—or no unit employee increase at all if that is what the agency wanted to do. But, can the Panel do that? Continue reading

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THANKS AGAIN AFGE

AFGE’s General Counsel shop has shown, once again, how aggressively it is going to protect federal employees.  When the Office of the Special Counsel put out Hatch Act advice warning feds not to show any support for “resisting” what is going on in this country, AFGE decided to push back and filed a lawsuit. It wants an injunction to stop that kind of intimidation of feds who know better than anyone else the impact on current government operations and effectiveness. After the President ignored the Special Counsel’s finding that KellyAnne Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act and should be fired, you would think the Special Counsel would be the last person to warn feds not to exercise all their Constitutional rights.

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WHY DON’T UNIONS ALLY WITH VETERAN GROUPS?

Unions need all the help they can get these days and one need only look at the President to see how powerless someone can be without allies. So, why aren’t unions leaders knocking on the doors of the various Veterans organization to get their help with federal employee issues? A recent White House report shows that veterans are 31.1 percent of the entire Federal workforce, which includes the 13.3 percent of the workforce who are veterans receiving disability compensation. By comparison, veterans comprise only about 6 percent of the private sector non-agricultural workforce. What more evidence is needed to show that unions and veteran organizations have very substantial overlapping interests? The most fundamental job protections all feds have today came about in the 40s because Congress wanted to protect Vets returning from WW II, e.g., the adverse action due process protections. Somewhere along the line union leaders got cocky and thought they could go it alone.  We now see how foolish  that was. It is time one or more of the national union leader reached out to reestablish this natural alliance because strong collective bargaining rights benefit thousands of vets.

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THE RIGHT TO SERVICE ANIMALS IN THE WORKPLACE

A well-respected law firm just sent a legal memo out to its clients giving them a good overview of the right of disabled employees to bring service animals to the office or on the job. We recommend it for union reps if only to boost their optimism about helping disabled members. Check it out here.

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BEING NICE IN NEGOTIATIONS CAN BACKFIRE

The FEDSMILL board member with decades as a union chief negotiator has often explained to the rest of us why the chief spokesperson often needs to “not be nice” to the other side.  In fact, he calls it a critical bargaining leadership skill. Now the Harvard Business Review has published some research making the same point. While we do not want to burst the bubbles of all the interest-based negotiations purists out there, they and all other negotiators would benefit from reading the HBR with the same title as this post.

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PARENT ATTENDANCE AT SCHOOL IEP COVERED BY FMLA

While OPM is not bound to follow what the Department of Labor says about how to administer the FMLA, it almost always does.  So, now that DOL has said private sector employees can use FMLA to attend these school meetings for their kids, federal employees should feel free to request FMLA leave for the events too.  Check this out for a more detailed posting on the change.

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THE FUTURE OF OFFICIAL TIME UNDER TRUMP

The Administration and its finger puppets at FSIP are making it nearly impossible for unions to continue agreeing to bank time systems to represent employees.  Ironically, they are also requiring agency executives to put their own necks and awards on the line even if they want to agree to a reasonable bank of time they know with certainty is necessary if it is more than an hour per year per unit employee. Consequently, as a big believer in Newton’s law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, it is virtually certain that unions will adjust their official time tactics to mute, if not mock, Trump’s orders. Here is one path they might take. Continue reading

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