• February 08, 2023
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    Interested in learning more about the Union and what we are doing for SSA employees? Do you want to support us and be able to participate in our bimonthly Local Business Meetings to hear more about what's up?

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    Select “SSAFO” (field office) or "SSAOHO” (hearings office) or "SSAFA" (field assessment/OQR), then “L3937” for our Local number.  There are a couple more steps to direct the dues deduction of $18.80 (2022 rate) per pay period from whatever account or card you designate.

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  • Jul 2022
    Sep 08, 2022

     AFGE, Local 3937 - Local Business Meeting

    July 13, 2022

    Conference Call

    Present were:  John Pfannenstein, Jeff Shane, Jackie Walton, Steffen Pleiness, Shanna Brumley.

    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.

    Agenda:

    • Treasurer’s Report:
    • Old Business
    • New Business
    • Reports
    • Minutes review

    Treasurer’s Report:

    We currently have $54,554 in checking and $177,158 in savings.  We recently transferred $75,000 from checking to savings to take advantage of the interest income.  We also finished our annual audit, and extend our appreciation for those who served on our audit committee. 

    Old Business:

    None.

    New Business:

    None.

    Reports:

    Officers from Local 3937 participated in the AFGE National Convention last month in Orlando, Florida.

    There was an election for positions with AFGE National, Council 220 and Council 215 among others.  Our new C220 President is Jessica LaPointe from Madison WI FO.  She has served on committees and used to produce the C220 newsletter.  She is new to this type of position but has had a strong mentor in prior C220 President Witold S.  We discussed with her issues of employee morale, staffing and retention, including expanding telework.  She will be working to establish Council committees on education, organizing and representation to help address the needs of both members and non-members.  One idea is to ask for an extension of our current MOU past September, to at least retain the telework rights that we have now while we work on proving our case that it works well for everyone (employees and the public).

    The body did not approve any dues increase to AFGE National, instead sending a strong message to the newly elected leadership of what changes and improvements we need to see before we allocate more funding.  This is a mixed bag of results, meaning that some departments that had planned to send more support out to Locals (such as hiring more attorneys or offering more support towards our representational activities), are now unable to expand those services, so some of that focus will move back to Council 220 and District 11 to assist us.

    In Council 215 (OHO) there were no changes; all were re-elected by acclamation.

    Nationally, we are focused on legislation – coming up on appropriations season for FY 2023.  We met with Jeff Cruz (AFGE National Legislative Rep), and C220 to discuss what we will ask Congress for in 2024.  Unless there is a Continuing Resolution in the next couple months, for 2023 we will again see only about $14B (short of what Biden requested).  Our ask for FY 2024 is $16.1B – not necessarily adequate for recruitment of new employees, and the modernization of IT needed but it would be an improvement.  There are differing viewpoints on whether we should simply ask Congress for money (no strings), or to request that they earmark so that the Agency doesn’t waste it or spend it on failed projects or remodeling headquarters (a huge waste of money, in our opinion, that occurred a few years ago).  We may need to ask for itemized categories, such as staffing or IT upgrades, among others.  Our next meeting will be held in August regarding messaging to Senator Patty Murray of WA who is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and as John is a resident and constituent he will continue to request meetings with her, as he’s done in prior years, to advance and promote our agenda.

    Locally, there was an employee Executive Exchange meeting late last month – many employees expressed their frustrations regarding workloads, staffing shortages, and the mandate that we commute (in the field) to the office an arbitrary 3 days per week.  They aimed a litany of grievances to the RO staff on the call, and some were then chastised by local management for a “tone” and for expressing their concerns that had been solicited per the agenda and purpose of these calls!  We do not feel any of this rose to the level of “misconduct” but plan to get ahead of any trigger-happy discipline by having John and the Denver Local’s President Elizabeth Labelle meet with the combined Denver-Seattle executive team about this. 

    John continues to push for hiring student interns or clericals, to reduce pressure on CSs who have been moved to front-end and lobby coverage while they are still tasked with a full load of claims workloads.

    Also, Video Service Delivery (VSD) isn’t yet being used but could be a great benefit to FOs and could even be used to assist understaffed or struggling offices, or on detail (e.g from a TSC to FO, or vice versa).  VSD use would decrease calling employees back from telework as other employees could backfill for unexpected absences.  The impediment to its roll-out was supposed to be the masking of employee name identification for the MS Teams meetings, but that has been resolved and still we haven’t seen movement. 

    ATSC (report by Jeff):

    There was recently a power outage, and it highlighted the need to have a good system of tracking who was actually in the building for safety reasons.  WSU employees and CSRs were released within about 5 minutes of each other, about 45 minutes after the power went out; it was early morning and there were few employees already on site.  The current procedure involves supervisors walking the aisles between 8am-11am (when the last shift begins) and manually noting who is present in their unit from a list.  WSU supervisors have their own separate roll call.  This seems to be working fairly well for both components and isn’t too time-intensive, and the Agency has also expressed being open to AFGE suggestions. 

    There is an ongoing discussion about childcare, especially from a nearby facility that rents an SSA building and that many employees use.  This relates to what type of time and leave may be available to employees if that facility were to have a safety issue or closure, and to having alternate coverage for care in general.  Travel time from ADS to ODS is covered by administrative leave or duty time, but in the current contract there is no additional clause for childcare related travel needs (LWOP or personal leave would apply).

    Even small “wins” for employees can help with morale and the somewhat cooperative environment for some of these issues at the TSC is very appreciated.  We continue to work from our end on shoring up a good working relationship with management at all levels, and hope to see it reciprocated.

    Jeff and John will be meeting with the new C220 VP for TSCs and WSUs (Linda Mason) to discuss the unique needs of TSCs vs other field operations offices.  The number one complaint we hear from WSU is the workload.

    Minutes Review:

    Jackie made a motion that we accept the minutes as written and read; Jeff 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; Jackie seconded. Motion passed. The meeting ended at 6:26pm.

    Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski


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