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March 24, 2020

NTEU Pushing for Federal Employee Provisions in Coronavirus Bill

NTEU is working hard on Capitol Hill to make sure several provisions that support federal employees amid the ongoing crisis are included in the final coronavirus stimulus package being negotiated in Congress right now.

Much of the NTEU-supported language was outlined in a bill released in the House yesterday including: reimbursements for child and family care; hazard pay for CBP employees and others whose jobs put them at greater risk of COVID-19 exposure; additional funding for the IRS; and easing caps on overtime and premium pay for HHS.

The union is also supporting eliminating certain barriers to telework and some of the limits on emergency paid sick leave and extending to federal employees provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act passed in the previous coronavirus relief bill.

The economic stimulus bill is still under intense negotiation. Lawmakers have already passed two other major legislative packages in response to the outbreak.

Check our coronavirus webpage for agency updates.

Ordered to the Office but Under a Shelter-in-Place Restriction?

NTEU has been hearing from union members whose states or cities have instituted shelter-in-place or lockdown orders but are being told by their supervisors to head into the office. On Friday, Attorney General William Barr issued guidance directly related to this question.   

In a memo to all U.S. Attorneys, Barr asked that state and local law enforcement be made aware that federal employees nationwide can commute and travel on official business during the coronavirus pandemic.

"If encountered by local law enforcement during such travel, federal employees shall identify themselves using their Personal Identification Verification cards, and explain the nature of their work and travel," the memo states.

In short, the Attorney General has determined that federal employees are exempt from the order and must go into their workplaces if necessary to perform essential functions or complete periodic tasks.

NTEU remains concerned about the health of employees who are compelled to travel to work contrary to local shelter-in-place orders.

From Status Call: NTEU Opposes Efforts to Weaken Key Workplace Rights

NTEU has made headlines with our multiple lawsuits against attacks on federal employees’ collective bargaining and other workplace rights. But the administration is also chipping away at key workplace rights and protections through behind-the-scenes administrative changes. Read about some of the proposed administrative changes, how they would impact you and what NTEU is doing to stop them from ever reaching your workplace. Read the latest Status Call





March 17, 2020

NTEU Continues Pressing Federal Government to Protect Employees

NTEU is urging the federal government to do the right thing amid the coronavirus health crisis as outlined in our checklist of eight actions the administration should take immediately.

As the federal government continues to lag in its response to this pandemic, others are asking the same question NTEU has posed: why is the federal government mandating that its employees report to work in heavily populated offices given CDC’s guidance to avoid crowds of 50 people or more?

"This is a chance for the government to lead by strictly following the advice of its own public health officials," National President Tony Reardon said. "State and local officials and private companies are all ramping down, and the federal government -- where possible -- should do the same."

Check out the latest news from Government Executive and Federal Times.

In the last 24 hours NTEU has posted several agency-specific updates to our dedicated coronavirus webpage. Members can view these here: nteu.org/coronavirus2020

Legislation Introduced in Congress to Rescind Anti-Union Executive Orders

NTEU is strongly supporting legislation that would protect federal employee collective bargaining rights.

A new House bill, introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), would rescind the administration’s three anti-union executive orders issued in May 2018. The bill would also rescind the presidential memo to the Department of Defense (DOD) granting the Secretary the authority to exempt DOD agencies and subdivisions from federal labor law. NTEU Chapter 339 represents around 370 federal security personnel at military bases in Hawaii who are DOD employees.

Last month, NTEU joined with 24 other unions in urging three House committees to include language in the upcoming defense authorization bill and funding measures to block the president’s DOD memo.  Several members of Congress have also written letters to the president and the Secretary of Defense opposing the memo. 

Since the EOs were issued nearly two years ago, NTEU has been fighting in the courts and on Capitol Hill to preserve federal employee rights, collective bargaining rights and the ability of unions to represent employees in the workplace.

Reminder: FEEA Scholarship Deadline Next Wednesday, March 25

The deadline is nearing for federal employees, their spouses and dependents to apply for a collegiate scholarship through the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA). FEEA has a 15-minute webinar on how to apply online for a scholarship of up to $5,000 for the fall academic semester.

Apply online by next Wednesday, March 25.

 




March 10, 2020

Federal Agencies Slow to Respond to Coronavirus

As the coronavirus threat grew across the country, NTEU contacted each of the 33 agencies where we represent employees to get their pandemic plans and urge agencies to take important steps to keep employees safe.

The response has been uneven with a handful of agencies taking positive action while others are lagging behind. NTEU believes it is in your best interest and the government’s to be proactive in helping curb the spread of the coronavirus rather than reacting after it has entered a federal workplace.

Here are the basic actions NTEU has been asking from agencies:

  • Broaden telework programs to cover as many employees as possible;
  • Halt all non-essential travel;
  • Make changes in highly-populated workspaces to increase social distancing; and
  • Ensure that all workplaces are properly cleaned and stocked with sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.

Along with these commonsense steps, we are also asking agencies to address the needs of their workforces performing unique duties, including employees with a high degree of public contact.

As NTEU receives information from agencies, it is posted on our coronavirus webpage. We are frequently updating the agency information, and some of this may have been sent to you directly. Our goal is to provide you with as much information as we have as quickly as possible.

Watch for updates from NTEU in your email and stay up to date by visiting our coronavirus webpage daily. Along with agency-specific information, the page contains links to guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

If you have immediate questions and concerns, contact your NTEU representative.

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