Legislative Update – February 2017

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Legislative Update from AFEU President Lee Stone – February 2017

Your Union was on Capitol Hill (and at HQ) last week for the annual Legislative Week of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE, your national  Union organization).

In addition to the legislative conference and federal caucus during which we discussed current concerns and developed a unified legislative strategy with our counterparts across the entire federal sector, the NASA Union reps from Ames, Glenn, Marshall, and HQ went to meetings on the Hill together, advocating for a number of federal policies that would benefit NASA, you, and your family (see link).

We spoke to staff in the offices of Reps.  Eshoo, Lofgren, Speier, Panetta, and Lee as well as with a number of congressional offices in OH and AL, representing workers at Glenn and Marshall.  In addition to the critical themes affecting all federal employees, we also raised our specific concerns about the future of the Research Centers and about funding for Science and Aeronautics.

Most urgently, we also focused on the looming attack on official time, the funding mechanism established under Ronald Reagan that allows federal Union officials to perform their representational duties on the clock, a statutory right that goes hand-in-glove with the Union’s statutory obligation to represent ALL employees, regardless of membership status.   This attack has been foreshadowed by a massive disinformation campaign that claims that Unions are using official time for “union and political” activities, which is false as such uses are already illegal (see link).  When the issue is representation (of either an individual employee or the Ames or NASA workforce as a whole) and the goal is to improve the functioning of the federal government, it is wholly appropriate for your representatives in such meetings be paid by the taxpayer, just as the staffers, managers, and elected officials across the table from us are.

Let me be clear, without official time, federal Labor unions will be forced to raise dues dramatically and all but a few will likely disappear entirely.  Yes, it is possible that before the year is out, you could lose your right to join a Union!  A small group of Ames employee’s genuinely oppose the Union and we respect their decision (for the moment) not to join.  However, many employees take the Union for granted and just procrastinate assuming that it will always be there for them if/when the need it, but that is clearly no longer a given.

Your Union depends on your VOLUNTARY support for its continued existence.  Without the full and active support of the majority of employees we will not be able to perform our duties and responsibilities as well as we must in the new era of existential challenges.  Unless federal employees send a loud and unequivocal message demanding that their voices continue to be heard through their elected employee representatives, independent of management, your right to have and join a Union may be lost.

Tomorrow, Union members will be gathering at lunch to discuss the current threats to NASA and Ames and the legislative plans your Union is developing to counter these threats.  I hope that, in the future, these meetings will find that all of you have stepped up to the plate to attend as a dues-paying member, amplifying all of our voices as we prepare for the significant policy and budget challenges in the year ahead.

Sincerely,

–Lee

President, AFEU

IFPTE local 30

AFL-CIO

Download/view the 2017 IFPTE Issue Briefs/Legislative Requests on:

 Key Issues of importance to Federal Workers in 2017

 Official Time is in the public interest