President's Corner

Last updated: 2/25/2013 4:44:09 AM

Dear AFGE Local 1916 members -

The message below was written up by Dan Doyle, President of Local 1995 at our NETL site in Morgantown, WV. We, along with AFGE Local 1104 in Albany, OR, work closely together. Dan made some very clear points below, so I asked his permission to share with you his message, with some of the modifications I added shown in blue text. While Dan's message is geared to DOE/NETL members, I have modified some of the message that also includes Local 1916's efforts that addresses our CDC/NIOSH/NPPTL/OMSHR members, as well. We - Ron Demicheli, Jonisha Pollard, and myself - attended the AFGE Legislative Conference held in Washington, DC, 2/9-14/13. We either met directly with the following Congressional members and/or their staffs in their Washington, DC, offices: Senators Casey (PA), Murray (WA), and Cantwell (WA); and Representatives Mike Doyle (PA-14th), Tim Murphy (PA-18th), and Cathy Morris-Rodgers (WA-5th). In addition, we provided information to Senators Murkowski (AK) and Begich (AK).

Please note the information in the AFGE newsletter that follows in red that cautions employees not to use Government equipment to open/view on duty time -- this will also be posted to our Local 1916 website where you can access it from your home computer or personal mobile device not on duty time. If you have not done so already, please register for access to our website at www.afge1916.org -- this is where information and action alerts will be posted for members to access from their own home personal computers or personal mobile devices that cannot be viewed on Government equipment or on duty time - please don't put yourself in a situation where Management may file against you for violating the Hatch Act provisions.

Yours in Solidarity - your Union at Work

Fran


Daniel Doyle 2/22/2013 12:12 PM

Sequester

I wanted to send you information about the sequester, which now appears to be likely to take place. I will try to tell you what I know, what I think is likely to happen, and what the Union is doing to try to protect NETL jobs and programs. If you were at the recent Union meeting, this information will be old news to you.

My contacts on Capitol Hill believe that the sequester will go into effect, and some sort of resolution involving the sequester and the funding for the remainder of FY 2013 will be worked out.

There are other issues at play that could impact the funding for NETL beyond the sequester, set for March 1. Primarily, the expiration of the current continuing resolution for FY2013 on March 27 is looming and needs to be resolved soon. Also, there is a chance that this issue could be complicated by negotiations over another extension of the debt ceiling, which will be reached on or around May 16, 2013.

On March 1, unless Congress acts sooner, the Sequester is supposed to take place. This sequestration will implement across the board cuts of $54.7 Billion in Defense Department, and $54.7 Billion in cuts to the other Government Agencies. Originally constructed as such a bad alternative to force Congressional action, by most reports the sequester was never intended to take effect. Unfortunately, if not superseded by other action from Congress, the sequester goes into effect. And, if unchecked, this is year 1 of a 10 year plan for reductions of agency funding.

The cost of Sequestration originally called for the Department of Energy to absorb an 8.2% cut this year, implemented equally across the board in every program area (more on this later). The recent deal cut to increase the debt ceiling reportedly reduced the need for the FY13 cuts to a lower level, but I can’t find confirmation of that in writing. However, our Congressional Representatives tell me that they understand that the reduction will be 5.4%, if implemented. I have not been able to find similar data at this time for CDC/NIOSH, but expect that the numbers will be within the same range as the DOE numbers.

If sequester goes into effect, we will not see immediate impacts to Federal staffing. First, Management is normally required to give the Union at least 30 days advance notice before implementing a furlough due to the sequester (note that furloughs caused by a fiscal emergency, such as reaching the debt limit, are not subject to the 30 day notice and can happen much more quickly). To date, we have received no such notice, only the notice from DOE Deputy Secretary Poneman on February 6 which essentially stated that furloughs may be considered - this is not the formal notice that the Agencies are required to give. Second, I believe that NETL has enough “residual” funding to allow us to absorb the impacts of a 5.4% cut without loss of Federal or Contractor staff or without furloughs. But there are a couple of situations that could change that conclusion.

One is if we were required to implement the cuts across every program down to the lowest level. The DOE/NETL budget generally contains around 12 high level accounts. If the cuts are implemented at that level, again I believe that no layoffs or furloughs would be necessary. However, those 12 accounts are then further broken down into many lower levels with much more specificity. If the cuts are driven down to that lower level of granularity, we would then more likely see some layoffs, probably of contractors, and possibly some short furloughs of federal staff.

Another situation that could change the likelihood of impacts to NETL is any flexibility given to DOE to implement the sequester. Such flexibility could allow the Secretary to decide where to shift cuts, and could work to our detriment or benefit, depending on the value that the Secretary places on NETL’s programs. Currently, the Secretary does not have that flexibility.

The last situation that changes whether we are ok or not comes from the starting point used for the sequester cuts. If the starting point is the current Continuing Resolution (CR), which is based on FY12 levels, we should be alright. However, the proposed budget by the Administration for NETL for FY13 is around 19% lower overall than our current levels of funding. Obviously, if our funding is reduced by sequester from this proposed lower amount, the impacts on NETL will be much greater.

Mike Brnich will be back in the office next week from attending the LMCC meeting in Atlanta. We will provide an update specific to CDC/NIOSH upon his return.

What is the Union doing about it?

First, we are trying to avert the sequester. For many weeks now, we have been regularly communicating with our Congressional Representatives about the impacts of sequestration upon NETL and those who depend on us. AFGE had a rally on Capitol Hill last week to draw attention to this situation. Robert “RJ” James and I, along with Ron Demicheli, Jonisha, and myself joined several hundred other AFGE leaders across the country for this rally. As mentioned above, we conducted visits with the various Congressional representatives and their staffs. In addition to avoiding the sequester, we also presented the case for funding for NETL for the remainder of FY13 and for FY14. We will continue to follow up with Congress, as well as NETL and DOE, and CDC/NIOSH leaders to try to protect all of our respective programs and jobs.

Next, the union is trying to learn as much as we can about the sequester and any plans that DOE or NETL, and CDC/NIOSH have for implementation. Unfortunately, the DOE appears to either not have plans, or is under orders not to share those plans. I believe the second explanation to be true.

Further, we are trying to make sure that if the sequester hits, that we don’t get singled out for deeper cuts. Again, we are working with our Congressional representatives to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Lastly, if the sequester does hit, we are going to negotiate with Management to ensure that any impact on Federal Employees is avoided or minimized.

However, I would expect that these sort of shenanigans will continue as each Political party tries to jockey for the high ground in this situation. It is unfortunate that Federal Employees are caught in the middle.

Older

Letter to the Honorable Senator Arlen Specter from AFGE 1916 President Ron Demicheli regarding the Economic Stimulus Bill, February 20, 2009