2016 NTEU Legislative Conference Report -aka- Mr Smith and Ms Smith Go to Washington

NTEU Chapter 239 Vice President Constance Smith, Chief Steward Howard Knudsen and about 350 other NTEU chapter leaders visited Washington DC on February 22nd and stayed through the 25th to attend the 2016 NTEU Legislative Conference. As part of the conference NTEU leaders lobbied on behalf of our members, educating our Congressional Representative on issues that affect federal employees.

Of particular concern was the eventual lapse in the lease for the Walnut Creek Post of Duty. Howard and Constance met with Legislative staff for Congressman Mark Desaulnier. Congressman Desaulnier serves as the Congressional Representative for the Eleventh District, which includes Walnut Creek. The first topic discussed was the potential closure of the Walnut Creek IRS office. Howard described the consequences for taxpayers, employees, and the government if the office was closed. Both employees and taxpayers would be compelled to travel to Oakland to work for or deal with the Internal Revenue Service.

The NTEU Officers also met with Congressional Representatives Ami Bera MD, Mike Thompson, Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi. They also met with Senator Barbara Boxer.  During their meetings, Constance and Howard requested the Representatives’ support for legislation that would increase federal employee pay by 5.3%. They also requested that the IRS budget be increased and that employees’ right to have a union be protected.

Constance and Howard were joined by NTEU leaders from the Food & Drug Administration, Custom & Border Patrol, and Securities & Exchange Commission.

It was a busy conference. They spent much of their time running between tightly scheduled appointments in different office buildings around the Capitol. It rained. Hard. Washington DC is a dreary city in late February, but the opportunity to advocate on behalf of IRS employees made the trip worthwhile.

Want to help make a difference? Then contact your Congressal Rep today!

Your Right to Performance Counseling before Negative Performance Reviews

Has your performance score been lowered in the last year?

If so, you join the club! You are not alone.

Before you accept that lower score, let’s review your rights under the NTEU-IRS National Agreement

Many employees across the Internal Revenue Service are complaining that managers are cutting their performance scores without counseling or meeting with the employees beforehand to discuss the reason for the change.

This is not fair to the employee. Surprising an employee with a cut in their score is arbitrary and fails to accomplish the purpose of the performance evaluation, which is improving performance. Communicating with employees both verbally and through written work reviews motivates performance improvements by clearly communicating management’s goals and measuring the employees’ success at meeting those goals.

It is with this understanding that the National Agreement addresses performance appraisals. Article 12 of the Union Contract addresses performance appraisals. Article 12, Section 4, Paragraph L guarantees employees’ right to a pre-evaluation performance counseling stating that

“the Employer will counsel employees in relation to their overall performance rating on an as needed basis. Such counseling will normally take place when a supervisor notices a decrease in performance, defined as a drop in the average CJE score and include advice or recommendations on better communicating job requirements and providing additional coaching, monitoring, mentoring, and other developmental activities, as appropriate, to help improve employee performance until the employee shows improvement.”

It’s a bit dense to read, but the point is, your manager must make an attempt to address and improve your performance before they punish you by lowering your score.

During the national bargaining between IRS management and the NTEU, management proposed eliminating the requirement that managers counsel employees on performance before subsequently lowering their performance appraisal scores. NTEU took this issue to arbitration and successfully defended employees’ rights, winning the continued right to performance counseling.

Why is this right important? It’s important, because this right removes the ability for management to arbitrarily punish employees by cutting their performance scores. With this right, management is required to document that they informed the employee of the problem and made a real attempt to help the employee to improve their performance.

Article 12 protects your right to a pre-evaluation performance counseling and basically protects employees from lowered performance scores without this mandatory counseling.

Exercise your rights. Don’t let your score be lowered without speaking to our union steward about our Article 12 rights!

Maintain your resume, update your skills, and improve your evaluation all on administrative time

Is your resume gathering dust? Does your USA JOBS account needs updating? Are you wondering how to plan the next stage in your career?

If any of the above sounds applicable to you, please pay attention, the National Agreement provides your administrative time to:

 

1. Update your resume

2. Apply for jobs at the agency

3. Take the CPA Examination

4. Develop and fulfill a career learning plan

 

Remember. You always must keep your manager informed as to your use of administrative time and plan accordingly around your usual workload. If you are denied administrative time for the above activities please contact your local NTEU steward.

I personally have used administrative time to take all 4 parts of the CPA exam (successfully !), to update my resume and to apply for positions at the IRS.

This time was negotiated on your behalf by your union the National Treasury Employees Union. Please exercise your right to this time and join the union if you are no already a member.

 

References:

1. NTEU National Agreement Article 13 Section 4(A) Paragraph 8

2. NTEU National Agreement Article 13 Section 4(A) Paragraph 8

3. NTEU National Agreement Article 36 Section 5(A)

4. NTEU National Agreement Article 30 Section 2(D)

A LUNCH’n’LEARN IN SACRAMENTO

 

WHEN:          (new date) Tuesday, June 23rd

 

WHERE:       ROOM 312, SACRAMENTO POD

 

TIME:            12:00 NOON to 12:30 PM

 

TOPIC:          NEW CONTRACT UPDATE & other Union News 

 

ALL MEMBERS ARE INVITED (but you’re on your own time if traveling in from another POD).  THIS WILL BE AN INFORMATIVE SESSION ON SOME OF THE PROVISIONS OF OUR NEW CONTRACT (effective October 1st  PLEASE R.S.V.P. IF YOU KNOW YOU WILL BE ATTENDING.  THANKS

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Take Action Today. Tell Congress “Hands Off the G Fund!”

Did you know Congress wants to cut the interest paid on funds invested in the Thrift Savings Fund’s “G Fund?”

The G Funds currently returns 2% on investment. Congress is proposing to cut this to .01%. You read that right. Congress wants to pay you 1/100 of 1% in interest for your hard earned retirement contributions.

This kind of capricious attack on Federal Employees’ retirement punishes federal employees for investing in bonds and ignores the fact that the US Government utilizes the G Fund to maintain the government during times the debt ceiling has been exceeded.

Federal employees don’t mind our retirement funds being used to sustain the government, but we expect to be paid for the service!

Use the link below to tell your Senator and Congressional Representative:

Get your hands off my G Fund!

 

NTEU Fights for Higher IRS Funding

NTEU Leader Renews Call For Increased IRS Funding

Wednesday, April 15 2015

Washington, D.C.—As millions of people rush to beat today’s tax-filing deadline, the head of the federal union that represents rank-and-file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees reminded Congress that taxpayers are bearing the brunt of chronic IRS underfunding.

Colleen M. Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), once again urged Congress to increase funding for the IRS to allow the agency to hire more people and improve taxpayer services.

“The IRS’ ability to provide excellent taxpayer service has been severely challenged due to reduced funding in recent years and the cuts mandated by sequestration,” Kelley said in a statement submitted to the Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held a hearing on Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson’s report to Congress.

Since fiscal year (FY) 2010, Congress has slashed the IRS budget by a total of $1.2 billion, or 17 percent when adjusted for inflation. The agency instituted a hiring freeze to cope with the cuts. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen acknowledged recently that his short-staffed agency has provided an “abysmal” level of taxpayer services but cannot do better unless Congress provides an adequate level of funding.

The IRS estimates it will be able to answer less than 50 percent of taxpayer calls in FY 2015—down from 87 percent in FY 2004, the NTEU leader said in her statement. The number of IRS employees assigned to answer taxpayer calls fell from 9,400 in 2010 to 6,900 last year, a 26 percent decline. Taxpayers who managed to get through faced average hold times of 30 minutes, up from 2.6 minutes in FY 2004.

Taxpayer Advocate Olson’s warnings about poor staffing at Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) also proved true, Kelley wrote. NTEU members at TACs nationwide reported longer lines and lengthier wait times this year than ever before.

“Without additional resources, further degradation in taxpayer services will occur, jeopardizing our voluntary compliance system,” President Kelley stated.

Inadequate staffing is also affecting the IRS’ ability to collect revenue by cutting into the agency’s enforcement staff, the NTEU leader wrote. The IRS, which collects 93 percent of the federal government’s revenue, has experienced a steady decline in enforcement revenue since FY 2007. IRS enforcement activities brought in $53.3 billion in FY 2013, down almost $6 billion compared to FY 2007.

The IRS expects to lose an additional 1,800 enforcement personnel in FY 2015, which means tens of thousands of audits and Field Collection cases will remain unresolved.

The $345 million cut in the agency’s overall budget for FY 2015 “will further reduce IRS’ ability to collect revenue and would result in the loss of billions in revenue,” Kelley wrote. “That lost revenue could otherwise be invested in critical government programs or be used to reduce the federal deficit.”

NTEU supports the administration’s $12.9 billion FY 2016 request for the IRS, an increase of more than $1.9 billion from the current level.

NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

Union Member Rights and Officer Responsibilities

The standards of conduct provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), among other statutes, guarantee certain rights to Federal employees who exercise their statutory right to become a member of a union representing Federal employees. The provisions also impose certain responsibilities on officers of these unions to ensure union democracy, financial integrity, and transparency. The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is the Federal agency with primary authority to enforce many standards of conduct provisions. If you need additional information, please contact OLMS at 1-866-4-USA-DOL. If you suspect a violation of these rights or responsibilities, you should refer to your union’s constitution and bylaws for information on union procedures, timeliness, and remedies. Complaints may be filed with OLMS after exhaustion of reasonable internal union remedies. See 29 C.F.R. §§ 452.135, 458.54.

Union Member Rights

Bill of Rights – Union members have (1) equal rights to participate in union activities; (2) freedom of speech and assembly; (3) voice in setting rates of dues, fees, and assessments; (4) protection of the right to sue, and (5) safeguards against improper discipline.

Collective Bargaining Agreements – Union members (and certain nonunion employees) have the right to receive or inspect copies of collective bargaining agreements.

Constitutions, Bylaws, and Reports – Unions are required to file an initial information report (Form LM-1), copies of constitutions and bylaws, and an annual financial report (Form LM-2/3/4) with OLMS. Unions must make these documents available to members and permit members to examine the records necessary to verify the financial reports for just cause. The documents are public information and copies of reports are available from OLMS and at www.union-reports.dol.gov.

Officer Elections – Union members have the right to (1) nominate candidates for office; (2) run for office; (3) cast a secret ballot; and (4) protest the conduct of an election within the time limits set by the union’s constitution and/or bylaws.

Officer Removal – Local union members have the right to an adequate procedure for the removal of an elected officer guilty of serious misconduct.

Trusteeships – A union may not be placed in trusteeship by a parent body except for those reasons specified in the standards of conduct regulations.

Protection for Exercising CSRA Rights – A union or any of its officials may not fine, expel, or otherwise discipline a member for exercising any CSRA right.

Prohibition Against Violence – No one may use or threaten to use force or violence to interfere with a union member in the exercise of his or her CSRA rights.

Union Officer Responsibilities

Financial Safeguards – Union officers have a duty to manage the funds and property of the union solely for the benefit of the union and its members in accordance with the union’s constitution and bylaws. The union must provide accounting and financial controls necessary to assure fiscal integrity.

Prohibition of Conflicts of Interest – A union officer or employee may not (1) have any monetary or personal interest, or (2) engage in any business or financial transaction that would conflict with his or her fiduciary obligation to the union.

Bonding – Union officers or employees who handle union funds or property must be bonded to provide protection against losses if their union has property and annual financial receipts that exceed $5,000.

Labor Organization Reports – Union officers must (1) file an initial information report (Form LM-1) and annual financial reports (Forms LM 2/3/4 ) with OLMS, and (2) retain the records necessary to verify the reports for at least five years.

Officer Elections – Unions must (1) hold elections of officers of local unions by secret ballot at least every three years; (2) conduct regular elections in accordance with their constitution and bylaws and preserve all records for one year; (3) mail a notice of election to every member at least 15 days prior to the election; (4) comply with a candidate’s request to distribute campaign material; (5) not use union funds or resources to promote any candidate (nor may employer funds or resources be used); and (6) permit candidates to have election observers.

Restrictions on Holding Office – A person convicted of certain crimes may not serve as a union officer, employee, or other representative of a union for up to 13 years.

Loans – A union may not have outstanding loans to any one officer or employee that in total exceed $2,000 at any time.