AFGE, Local 3937 - Local Business Meeting
July 19th, 2023
Present were: John Pfannenstein, Laura Novakoski, Tonya Boren, Janice Couoh.
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 5:30pm, chaired by John Pfannenstein, Local President.
Our checking account currently has $91,733 and our savings account has $177, 247. Jackie was not able to attend today’s meeting but submitted the numbers for us. Later this month the Local will be providing the information needed to the AFGE National rep who will be performing our annual audit.
Contract Bargaining -
Bargaining concluded last week, and we now have an agreement that is ready for review and ratification. The process may take 1-2 months. This week the Local provided AFGE Council 220 Rich Couture’s summary and update to employees by email. John noted that it was a privilege to work with the AFGE bargaining team, who came from all SSA components. Through our perseverance, we acquired major gains for our members and bargaining unit that we hope to build upon in the months and years to come.
We were able to expand Article 3 employee rights regarding Weingarten meetings. After ratification of this agreement, management would have to notify employees at the outset of these meetings of their right to have a Union rep present, and to inform them of the subject matter (e.g., “We will discuss emails you sent on mm/dd/yy” or other specific topics). They have to give notes to the union and employee timely. This will all dovetail with Article 23, where management’s investigations will be initiated timely (management cannot wait to see if a problem recurs or until they pile up more evidence so they can rationalize imposing discipline). One sticking point in Article 3 was management’s insistence they wanted carte blanche to be able to record everyone (employees, management, participants) in all video meetings (excepting their own Weingartens), not just trainings to replay later for those who missed it. They fortunately realized it was too much for us to agree to, and instead plan to have future discussions of virtual and hybrid workplaces in the Union-Management Cooperation Council (UMCC) forums.
There are some improvements in Article 16. There should be time that is preserved for employees to meet with their mentors; for example, letting the CTE work with their trainee(s) having some priority over being constantly scheduled to answer phones or lobby work.
We have improvements to lactation in Article 20, including a locking door, no video surveillance, and provision of a mini-fridge. If there is no such space available at the location, RAs could be possible. Additional new protections in this article include some provision for emergency backup care for minors and dependent family members in exigent circumstances.
Some remote work options are available in Article 27 via TCAs, including locations outside the commute area. Article 29 creates Union-Management Cooperation Councils (UMCC), which will allow the union to meet regularly with actual decisionmakers of SSA, rather than the Labor Employee team as intermediary. This will allow us pre-decisional involvement with changes for the bargaining unit in order to create and foster a working environment that will promote the recruitment and retention of our valued employees.
Article 41 was not part of this limited reopening to bargaining, and even the MOU extension through October 2029 only means that if there is telework offered, probationary and trainee employees are still eligible and can continue to participate.
Summary of Legislative Virtual Visits -
Adam and John participated in several meetings last month with congressional staffers about SSA funding (budget request for $17B); currently there is an expected decrease of $350M in the 2024 budget, which would completely erase the bump we saw for 2023 and return us to previous funding levels. We would also like a permanent commissioner for SSA to be nominated on the Senate floor; we are extremely unhappy with current leadership and its effect on employee morale and retention.
Open Floor / Miscellaneous:
Laura made a motion that we accept the minutes as written and read; Tonya seconded. Motion passed.
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Laura moved to adjourn; Tonya seconded. Motion passed. The meeting ended at 6:00pm.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.