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Unions Have A Lot Of Say In Sequester Furloughs

From the Washington Post:

For federal workforce, the furlough terrain is uneven

By Lisa Rein | March 28, 2013

The budget ax was supposed to fall across the board but hardly does so, federal workers are learning. And the situation is quickly splitting the workforce into haves and have-nots, inflaming labor-management tensions and straining agency resources as everyone struggles through the details.

What’s this? ‘Labor-management tensions’ are being inflamed?

Some agencies are benefiting from exceptions Congress carved out in its stopgap plan to keep the government going through Sept. 30. Lawmakers gave other agencies, including the Defense Department, authority to move money around. This allowed the Pentagon to offer a bit of relief to its 750,000 civilians.

Meanwhile, other employees wait to learn their fates as managers fine-tune plans or complete their bargaining with unions…

So these furloughs, that even the President can’t stop, have to be negotiated with unions?

The [Pentagon's furlough] reprieve quickly led to finger-pointing from unions and critics, who say any furloughs are unnecessary.

What’s that? "Unnecessary"?

Some services had considered eliminating them, but defense leaders concluded that the pain should be spread across the board, from rank-and-file to top managers.

That is, they have been told to make this ‘cuts’ hurt as much as possible.

Furloughs will be a lot more uneven at the Labor Department…

There will be no furloughs for employees working in labor statistics, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Wage and Hour Division, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration…

The sequestration law does not allow managers to reassign money from one department to allow another to cancel its furlough days…

The law does not prohibit it, either. And whenever Congress has suggested passing another law to clarify this point, Obama has threatened to veto it.

Customs and Border Protection agents are hoping to receive the same consideration as meat inspectors and prison staffers…

The agency told union leaders this week that it may forgo furloughs but continue with plans to cut most overtime for Border Patrol agents, labor officials said. The agents oppose any overtime reductions.

“They’re going to shape the message and look like they’re doing something about the budget cuts if they eliminate furloughs,” said Shawn Moran of the National Border Patrol Council…

There has been some recognition on both sides of the negotiating table that Congress, not federal managers, is behind the disruption that the furloughs will create. But tension is high at the Environmental Protection Agency, where the American Federal of Government Employees filed an unfair labor practice complaint this week after management said the union’s demand to bargain over some issues arrived too late and rejected it…

Labor has won some victories, though. Most agreements guarantee that an employee’s performance review will not be downgraded for project delays, for example. Telework has been protected. When possible, employees can choose their days off as long as their supervisor agrees, and seniority will determine who gets to take Mondays and Fridays. HUD reduced furloughs from 13 days to seven and then decided it would close the agency on those unpaid days…

So, again, it’s clear that the unions have a lot of power of the furloughs and other consequences of these so called cuts.

Among the law enforcement employees who will not get a break are the Park Police. The department must slice $5 million from its $102 million budget and said it must furlough all 767 employees for 14 days. This is in contrast to the parks themselves, with the National Park Service freezing seasonal and permanent hires and making other cuts to avoid furloughs.

Officer Dave Nichols, who patrols Washington’s monuments on horseback, said furloughs will cost him $5,000. Among his biggest concerns about losing pay is his wife, a teacher in Calvert County and two-time breast cancer survivor. He worries about another health scare. The couple are reassessing whether they can afford the family’s annual North Carolina beach vacation this year and still set aside money for their daughters’ college fund…

To borrow Oscar Wilde, ‘You would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh out loud’ at such ‘suffering.’

Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said he’s not happy with the inequity, either.

“If we could, we would spread their budget cut across the Park Service,” he said in a statement. “We can’t do that.”

Yes, they can. But they won’t. Because Obama won’t let them.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, March 29th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Unions Have A Lot Of Say In Sequester Furloughs”

  1. Unions = Satan’s shock troops


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