AFGE, Local 3937 - Local Business Meeting
January 19, 2022
Present were: John Pfannenstein, Steffen Pleiness, Don Schaefer, Melanie Broady, Steve Kofahl, Andrew Seger, Alice Bailey, Nicole Duncan, Marie La Rocco, Sarah Epplin, Jackie Walton and Laura Novakoski.
The meeting was held via Zoom conference call with dial-in information posted to the Members section of our Local website.
The meeting was called to order at 5:35pm, chaired by John Pfannenstein, Local President.
We were within budget for all categories for 2021 (our expenses have been quite low due to the pandemic). We have had a fiscally conservative stance over the past couple years and the pandemic limitations on our activities. Therefore, Jackie recommends that we have room to increase one or more categories of the budget, such as Legislative/Political and Union Administration. We may see a rescheduled legislative conference, and there is a scheduled triennial national convention that would have normally taken place last year so we could send multiple delegates. Our expected income from dues and membership exceeds the proposed 2022 budget with a good cushion, and we have about $214,000 in our accounts as well.
2021 Allocation 2022 Allocation
General Overhead $10,000 $10,000
Union Administration $10,000 $30,000
Representation $35,000 $35,000
Legislative/Political $4,000 $7,000
Officer $20,000 $20,000
Employee $500 $500
Contributions/Gifts $1,000 $1,000
Total $80,500 $103,500
Jackie made a motion that we accept the 2022 budget as proposed; Steve seconded. Motion passed.
We still have no word on decisions for exemptions to the vaccine mandate, unfortunately (for those who made a reasonable accommodation or religious exemption request).
Late today a preliminary nationwide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was issued, and a low-on-details Commissioner’s Broadcast email was issued regarding reentry plans for returning to offices from Work at Home – Quarantine (pandemic), and we shared the document for discussion. The target date included in the MOU is March 30, 2022, though the date can and probably will be extended. The bargaining, roll-out and evaluation is planned for a 6-month period, and is component-specific with various meetings among the representatives of those affected. There are no details provided in this MOU setting down telework days for the various components, though it contains language that they will “normally” approve employees with childcare needs for school closures or remote learning related to COVID matters for episodic telework. There are also no details regarding what lobby service will look like, other than stating CDC guidelines will be followed, such as requiring masks.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID who has been reporting to the Official Duty Station (ODS) should file for Workers Compensation as soon as possible to document the condition, especially since some will be affected by long-haul COVID and these symptoms may not be immediately apparent. The Department of Labor is being liberal with their determination that COVID can be presumed to have been from workplace exposure.
Union officials will still be able to use union time while at the Alternate Duty Stations (ADS) for the duration of this agreement (the 6-month evaluation period). We need that flexibility to continue to do our Union work even while teleworking. Employees with reprimands or short-term suspensions related to telework may utilize this schedule, while those with long-term related suspensions may not.
We will be issuing more information for both reps and employees as it becomes available since this is new to everyone and bargaining is still ongoing. Suggestions for any component-specific or other bargaining ideas can be routed to the Local Executive Board or officers and we will pass them to the bargaining team (e.g. hours of work, telework days per week/pay period, portable vs non-portable work in WSU, positive COVID contact notification for employees potentially exposed).
There was to be a Legislative Conference in February 2022 in Washington DC, but for now John, Steve and Steffen will be conducting virtual meetings with our legislators and staffers. Our talking points include the urgency for a term-appointed Commissioner, reopening the 2019 contract to restore our Official Time, removing some of the draconian measures related to performance plans and discipline, and issues related to staffing, retention and retiree issues. In a recent employee survey (FEVS), our agency scored amongst the lowest of all federal agencies and this impacts not only employees but the public we try our best to serve.
Steve Kofahl attended a District 11 meeting yesterday, and they discussed the National Executive Committee (NEC) vote recently to postpone the in-person Legislative Conference, which was partly due to the hotel’s requirements that a minimum number of rooms were taken. They may reschedule to late March, or May, or hold a virtual conference on unspecified dates. Part of what complicates AFGE’s planning for this and other events are our multi-year contracts with various hotels.
Melanie made a motion that we accept the minutes as written and read; Jackie seconded. Motion passed.
You can stay informed about topics like these and much more by going to www.afge.org to sign up for Action Alerts to be sent via text or email so that you are informed of current legislative and political events – please do so on your personal computer or phone, not on duty time or on Agency equipment.
Laura moved to adjourn; Steve seconded. Motion passed. The meeting ended at 6:45pm.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski