Be sure to check out our Major Topics page for information on performance matters, teleworking, Metro parking benefits, and other current issues.
For Local 476 members only! Come hear about issues that are important to you. This is your chance to make your voice heard!
Trump administration considering more than $6 billion in cuts
The Trump administration, as reported by The Washington Post on March 8, 2017, is looking at cutting HUD's budget by over $6 billion for fiscal year 2018. That's a 14% reduction.
The plans include reducing HUD salaries and administrative expenses by 5%.
Almost one-third of the cuts would be from the public housing capital and operating funds. These cuts would hurt low-income families by reducing the availability of subsidized housing vouchers and severely reducing funding for major repairs at public housing, where facilities are already in poor condition.
The proposed budget would also reduce funding to house the elderly by about 10%, to house people with disabilities by almost 20%, as well as Section 8 housing and vouchers for homeless veterans.
Funding for the Community Development Block Grant Program and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program would also be cut.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson responded by writing to HUD employees, "We are working hard to support those programs that help so many Americans, focus on our core mission, and ensure that every tax dollar is spent wisely and effectively."
The preliminary budget document obtained by The Post is not a final budget proposal, and was probably prepared before Secretary Carson was confirmed. Read the full article.
Washington Post Quotes President Robinson Johns on Housing Concerns
The Washington Post recently summarized concerns of federal employees regarding the effect of proposed budget cuts on their agencies. Many employees are worried about their jobs: According to Lisa Rein of the Post, “layoffs are inevitable, say federal officials, unions and budget experts.”
Yet employees also are troubled by how the reduced funding will affect the public. As Local 476 President Ashaki Robinson Johns noted, the same low-income families that are helped by Social Security programs are also served by HUD. “You can’t say you’re not going to touch Social Security and you’re going to cut housing vouchers. . .We all serve the same people,” said Robinson Johns, as quoted in the Post. Read the full article.
In The Washington Post (February 24, 2017), conservative columnist George F. Will explained that the federal civilian workforce of is about the same size it was in 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower was elected president. Federal spending, however, has increased exponentially—and it’s not because federal employees are being paid that much more.
Will points to a report by the Brookings Institution, which notes that the government’s growth is due to the amount of money funneled to state and local government employees and to contractors. Many government programs, including HUD’s, that are federally funded are administered by state and local government employees; an estimated 3 million state and local workers are funded by federal dollars.
There are about 7.5 million for-profit contractors; the nonprofit contractors might number at least another 2.2 million. Together, they add up to almost five times the 2 million federal employees. And yes, contractors do cost more than feds: According to Will’s information, the government spends $100 billion more on just the defense contractors than on all federal employees. Add all the numbers up, and we 2 million employees federal employees account for less than 14% of the true federally supported workforce.
Read the full article.
Membership Meetings: Your Voice, Your Union
AFGE Local 476 holds membership meetings every two months from 12:00pm to 1:00pm on the fourth Thursday. All members of the Local--and only members--may attend these meetings. Your participation is encouraged, especially regarding important issues pertaining to working conditions and challenges to our livelihood.
Our next meeting is March 23, 2017. Not a member yet? Join now and come see what's happening in your union.
Union Wins Posting in Unfair Labor Practice Case
AFGE Local 476 President Ashaki Robinson Johns fights to protect employee rights
When employees contacted the Union about a SES manager who threatened to use her “managerial power” against them if they contacted the Union about how they were being treated in the office, Local 476 President Ashaki Robinson Johns jumped into action. She filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
The FLRA found that the manager violated the employees' right to Union representation that is guaranteed by Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. In a settlement of the case, HUD was required to post a notice electronically and physically throughout the Weaver Building promising not to "say or do anything that discourages employees from contacting the Union."
President Robinson Johns says that the case serves to reassure employees of their legal right to representation. "You have the right to join, participate and assist your Union. No one is allowed to prevent you from exercising that right. Your Union will always do its best to ensure that you are afforded all of the rights to which you are entitled," explains Robinson Johns.
HUD agrees to union demands but won't sign agreement
AFGE Local 476 President Ashaki Robinson Johns met in early June with HUD's Labor Relations staff to bargain over the impact of Metro's SafeTrack plan on HUD employees in the Washington, DC Metro area. The disruptions caused by single-tracking and shutting down various Metro lines and stations are making it hard for employees in the DC area to get to work.
Read Local 476's proposals in our demand to bargain. HUD agreed to almost all of the Union's requests, including:
These policies apply only to employees in the Washington, DC metro area for the duration of SafeTrack.
As SafeTrack Surge 2 approached, with 16 days of shutdowns affecting the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines, HUD reminded all personnel that "supervisors are encouraged to provide the highest level of flexibility in terms of telework (e.g. up to 5 days of telework, same day recall), arrival times (e.g. allow start times after 9:30 am), liberal leave (e.g. allow use of annual leave or earned credit hours as needed) to all employees that are in need."
Additionally, as requested by President Robinson Johns, HUD provided guidance to employees who want to change their mode of transportation during SafeTrack and who receive or will become eligible to receive transit subsidies.
See HUD's guidance to employees and supervisors, issued in an email on June 3. 2016.
Although HUD agreed to most of the proposals laid out by President Robinson Johns, HUD refused to sign an agreement with the Union and -- as with the transit benefits -- initially failed to recognize the Union in its announcement. Several days later, however, AFGE Local 476 and HUD issued a joint statement regarding the flexibilities offered to mitigate the difficulties that SafeTrack is causing commuters.
After AFGE Local 476 submitted two demands to bargain, HUD initially agreed to increase the transit subsidy on May 1 for all employees to the legal maximum of $255 and more recently announced that the agency would provide the increase retroactively back to January 1, 2016.
HUD did not acknowledge the Union in either of its announcements, attempting to appear as if the increased subsidy were an unsolicited benefit offered by the Department.
Both the May 1 increase and the retroactive benefits directly result from the efforts of your Local 476.
On February 12, 2016, our Local submitted a Demand to Bargain to HUD on the behalf of Headquarters and DC Field Office employees, requesting the current increase.
On April 19, Local 476 submitted a second Demand to Bargain requesting retroactive benefits as permitted under the current law.
HUD has refused to negotiate with the Union, instead unilaterally announcing the implementation of the benefits.
AFGE Local President Ashaki Robinson Johns expressed, "AFGE Local 476 is proud to be advocating for you, both in the workplace and on Capitol Hill, and we are pleased to share in this latest victory with you."
The increased benefits can save each HUD employee up to $1500 in 2016 in mass transit expenses.
HUD's "Best Places to Work" Ranking
a Dismal 21 out of 23
The Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, ranked government agencies to identify which were the best places to work--and which weren't. The Partnership uses three questions from the Employee Viewpoint Survey to determine their rankings.
Within the mid-size agencies, HUD's rank fell in the bottom quartile, just as we did last year. Ranking 21st out of 23 (two agencies tied for 8th and two for 23rd place), HUD did creep up from where we sat in 2014, at the absolute bottom.
HUD's top leadership celebrates our "awesome" and "incredible" 18% improvement over last year's score. HUD's score increased from 44% to 52%.
Ask any kid in high school: 52% is still a failing grade.
The message from "Julian and Nani" to HUD employees on December 8 stating, "We still have work to do," is quite an understatement.
Anonymous Surveys...Not So Secret
What does "Confidential" really mean?
HUD employees are often asked to fill out surveys, from the nationwide Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to those conducted by small offices. Often the surveys are labeled anonymous or confidential. What does this really mean?
In the case of the EVS, anonymous means that the Department is not given enough detailed data to link any specific responses to an individual in an office. You're pretty safe.
With smaller, more localized surveys, it's easier to link an individual to the responses. How would you feel if you current supervisor found out that you answered "Never" to questions such as "How often did your supervisor follow policy and procedures?" or "...demonstrated fair and equal treatment?"
Just because a survey says it's confidential doesn't make it so.
There are NO guarantees that your opinions won't be shared with your present or future supervisors.
Even if your name isn't revealed, if your information comes from an "exit survey" when you leave one HUD office for another, it probably won't be hard to figure out who expressed those opinions.
So, before you turn in a survey, whether or not you've put your name on it, ask yourself:
Worried about being called into the boss's office?
Do You Know Your Rights? You Don't Have to Go It Alone!
If you think a conversation with management may lead to disciplinary action, ask for a Local 476 steward or officer. It's your "Weingarten right."
You can ask at any time in the discussion that your Union representative be present. Your Union is here to support you.
But YOU have to ask. Management does not have to tell you about this right.
This is one of your "Weingarten Rights," named for a Supreme Court decision (read more). It applies to investigative interviews where you are asked to answer questions that you think may lead to a disciplinary action. You do not have the be the subject of an investigation.
If you are asked to answer questions, and you think that the discussion could lead to discipline, you should ask for a Union representative or officer. You do not have to put your request in writing. Keep our handy Weingarten card in your wallet so you remember what to say!
You have the right to:
Read more about your rights in an investigative interview.
Holiday Gala Photos Now Online
If you were there, you know what a great time everyone had.
Did you miss the fun this year? Join YOUR union, AFGE Local 476 and enjoy members-only events like the Holiday Gala and Spring Luncheon...always free, and only for members.
Read about the status of telework at HUD and throughout the Federal Government in OPM's Status of Telework in the Federal Government. Search for "Housing and Urban Development" or scan for highlighted sections to see HUD's data.
Telework is good for employees, good for HUD, good for the metro area, and good for the environment. The Union agrees with the report's conclusion that management attitudes are our biggest barrier to implementing telework more effectively.
Situational and emergency telework is good for continuity of operations but it does not respond to the need for regular telework for all eligible employees. Local 476 is working to improve telework benefits for our employees. Read more about HUD telework policies.
Money-Saving Discounts for Members
Did you know that Union members can save money on travel, shopping, insurance, education and health benefits, even financial and legal services? From computers to cars, amusement parks to real estate...your membership pays you back in many ways. Check out the details on our Benefits page and start saving today!
Fill out Form 1187 to join now! Get the benefits you want and need as a federal employee:
A voice in workplace changes
Representation with workplace issues
And look at the members-only benefits you'll enjoy once you're an active part of your Union.
Just stop by Room 3142 with your form today!
Have you received a poor performance evaluation? Has your supervisor mentioned that a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is being considered as part of an evaluation of your individual work performance? Beware! In the Union's experience, the use of a PIP is often the beginning of the removal or demotion process. If you have been placed on a PIP, or have just received a poor performance evaluation, contact the Union immediately! Read more.