AFGE, Local 3937
Local Business Meeting
May 14, 2014
Labor Temple, Seattle WA
Present were: Steve Kofahl, Carrie Kitchin-Kofahl, Laura Novakoski, Ivan Weich, Ana Rivers, Ardeth Bolin, Susan Campbell, Tim Roark, Kym Hermann..
The meeting was called to order at 7:10pm.
Ardeth handed out the March and April summary. The resources in our combined accounts come to $210,639.89; the interest rate is very low. We’ve used 26% of our budget by the end of April (a big chunk was spent in March with our legislative activities).
From April 28th to May 1st Steve was a delegate at the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) convention in Las Vegas. The ARA is the AFL-CIO’s retiree organization, and Steve is on the Executive Board for the Washington Alliance. They agreed to sponsor a convention resolution that he wrote. They were able to reach a large number of people, with 518 delegates attending. The AFGE table in the exhibit area, and later in the main hall, got a lot of visitors. The flyer he distributed is intended to help the general public understand the seriousness of the ongoing threats to limit SSA services. SSA’s table was just adjacent to AFGE’s, signing people up for MySSA accounts. Acting Commissioner Colvin and several officials from the Inspector General’s (IG) office were there, doing a workshop on preventing fraud and scams. There are several websites that appear very similar to the official one (like SocialSecurity.com, etc), and there are already tens of thousands of reports of MySSA fraud. He has a follow-up meeting with the IG’s office in Seattle to share some anti-fraud ideas with them: authenticate the individual’s identity, explain their rights and responsibilities, and hold them accountable. AC Colvin agreed to consider reducing the size of middle-management in the Agency, and was asked by several people, including AFGE National President J. David Cox, about her decisions to close field offices. This was the first time that AFGE was a convention sponsor, and they are very concerned and are advocating on our behalf about Vision 2025. The SSA management association has come out with a paper to be shared that is very similar to the Union’s proposal countering Vision 2025.
Ana discussed potentially inappropriate banking procedures initiated by third-party applicants or advocates who are contacting families to file for SSI who have accessed health care services using Medicaid in the state of Washington. More than one agency or authorized representative is setting up bank accounts for these individuals where the disability benefits will be deposited, in some cases so the fees can be withdrawn more easily by the authorized representative. She has notified management, who is tracking the issue with the help of Regional Office. SSA has been actively recruiting third party applicants since the 1980’s; fraud has been increasing steadily, such as authorized representatives holding internet claims and not filing them, or not submitting wet signatures for months (to increase their fees). Laura mentioned that the new administrative sanctions restrictions effectuated in September 2013 have had the effect of greatly reducing the field office’s (FO) ability to impose consequences on individuals who are committing fraud (because OIG doesn’t have sufficient staff to actively review all allegations they receive, which means the FO can’t move forward with sanctions no matter how egregious the offense).
Ivan attended the Washington State Labor Council COPE convention. They endorsed many of the federal and state candidates who are currently in office, and discussed ballot initiatives. They decided not to take a stance on a constitutional amendment to counter a Citizens United decision issued by the Supreme Court now, about how to consider personhood of super-PACS (political action committees).
Susan attended a unit meeting where Gail Leon, Deputy Regional Commissioner, participated, and asked her about Vision 2025. Ms. Leon assured her that it’s strictly a draft plan that’s still open for input, and that everyone’s jobs are safe. Based on what we’ve read of the plan details and our knowledge of the Agency’s current push towards technology and away from direct service, we do not agree.
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 8:05pm. Motion passed.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.