AFGE, Local 3937
Local Business Meeting
January 8, 2014
Labor Temple, Seattle WA
Present were: Steve Kofahl, Carrie Kitchin-Kofahl, Laura Novakoski, Ivan Weich, Ana Rivers, Ardeth Bolin, Susan Campbell, Tim Roark, Melanie Broady and Leri Harper.
The meeting was called to order at 7:16pm.
There is no report tonight because our Treasurer has just returned from an extended absence; deferred.
In September, we voted to fund four delegates to attend the annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C. Our usual delegate from Idaho is unable to attend so we asked Gabriela Rodriguez, another local representative and Idaho resident, to participate in her stead. This is informational and does not change expenses.
WSLC State Legislative Conference:
This conference is from 2/6-2/7/14 in Olympia WA, at the Red Lion. Registration is $85, and attendees would use personal leave, not Official Time. Tim made a motion that the Local fund two delegates to attend the conference, at a cost not to exceed $1300 (for transportation, lodging, M&IE, registration); Ivan seconded. The only two delegates on the Board who are interested in attending are Ivan and Ana. We will also invite our Local’s other delegates to attend if they wish to do so at their own cost, although we try to use that state’s residents. Motion passed.
This convention will be at the Bally’s in Las Vegas on 4/28-5/1/14. The information packet Steve was sent doesn’t have a detailed agenda so we’re not sure how many nights of lodging he’ll need. If we plan for him to fly the day before and day after, that would be 6 nights ($99 + tax). Registration is $125. Tim made a motion that the Local fund one delegate selected by the Local President to attend the convention, at a cost not to exceed $1600; Carrie seconded. The Alliance for Retired Americans fights hard to preserve Social Security benefits, which thereby preserves more of our jobs. This does a lot for our members so our continued affiliation with them is very useful for the Local. Motion passed.
Seattle Arbitrations Training:
The Labor Arbitration Institute is holding a one-day training seminar in March 2014 at the Convention Center in Seattle, similar to what most of our officers have already attended. It’s something that may interest our interns, in case they foresee being involved in litigations for the Local in the future. We will send information about the program to all three interns to solicit interest, but just in case, Tim made a motion for the Local to fund up to three individuals selected by the Local President to attend the training at a cost not to exceed $3000; Carrie seconded. Two of our new interns, Melanie and Cassandra, have legal backgrounds. Motion passed.
Ardeth made a motion that we reaffiliate with our Central Labor Councils in King County, Marian-Polk-Yamhill County, the Boise Trades, and in Kitsap County. These are all councils where we have delegates actively participating in regular meetings; Ivan seconded. Motion passed.
The Local is pleased to report that for 2014 we are embarking on an internship program where selected applicants will participate in Local Executive Board meetings and receive practical experience in some representational and other leadership and organizational aspects of the Local. This program gives interested members an opportunity to learn more about the Union and about our Local. We selected three interns to participate this year, and expect to continue the program annually. Melanie Broady, of the Auburn TSC; Cassandra Lovick, of the Spokane FO; and Kym Herrmann, of the Salem FO are this year’s interns.
Today at the Executive Board Meeting, our newest intern Melanie officiated at the swearing in ceremony for all of our newly elected officers for the Local Executive Board and Council positions. The local election in November included the Regional Office of Quality Review Vice President and delegate positions. The election results were tallied and certified by the election committee on 12/31/13. Steve Kofahl won the OQR Regional VP position; Andrea Wassner is the 9th delegate and Monica Rodgers is the 10th delegate (after the 8 Executive Board positions, which are delegates by virtue of office) for caucuses and conventions.
The telework pilot will begin soon, and there are 22 employees in our Region who were selected (based on SCD) to participate. Many employees are excited about it, but at the moment it is very limited because it is in the testing phase. Employees have the ability to select an Alternate Duty Station (ADS) which could be their home or another (closer) office location than their Official Duty Station (ODS) and will be working on a laptop using a VPN card and secure log-in.
Tim shared with us an issue in the Pocatello, ID FO that relates to Permanent Workstations at Barrier Wall (PWBW) – this is where employees are lined up at interviewing windows with their permanent workstation (instead of having a separate desk “in the back”). He and Ana are in consultations with management this week. The PWBW floorplans have been popular with the Agency for budgetary reasons, but the Union has submitted ergonomic studies (by an independent source but funded by the Agency) showing that the PWBW plans include desk set ups that are proven harmful to employees’ health (among the problems are reach issues due to desk/computer placement, repetitive strain problems, and sound/privacy issues). Nationally, AFGE is also in talks with the Agency to work towards modifying current floorplans and no longer implementing PWBW in any office.
Melanie reports that the ATSC recently installed new headsets for the phone system, and many employees are having trouble with volume, echoes and other sound issues. We will survey employees and try to liaison more effectively with management to get these problems addressed.
An issue we were recently made aware of through the Union-Management forums involves quality reviews of targeted FO workloads by Area Director’s and OQR offices; the Agency assures us that data will not be used for individual performance assessments but for general public service improvements. However, as we hear more details about the reviews, it appears that only non-bargaining employees (GS-12 and above) will be performing the reviews, employees will be made aware of each error and be given a timeframe for correcting them, and the local managers will be closely tracking each case. It is difficult to see how this type of report wouldn’t have an effect on individual appraisals. The Union has still not been given any official notice about this initiative, and we’ve put in Regional level requests for FO and OQR offices to consult and possibly bargain over it.
Carrie made a motion that this evening’s LBM minutes be approved as read and amended; Susan seconded. Motion passed.
Carrie moved to adjourn at 8:40pm. Motion passed.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.