Be sure to check out our Major Topics page for information on performance matters, teleworking, Metro parking benefits, and other current issues.
General Membership Meeting
Brooke-Mondale Auditorium Salon C
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Be sure to come hear updates on local and national issues, as well as new business matters.
The Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326, limits certain political activities of most federal employees. For example, the law prohibits employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or in the Federal workplace. It also prohibits them from soliciting or receiving political contributions.
I hear about the Hatch Act all the time. What is it really?
The Hatch Act is a federal law passed in 1939, named for its sponsor, Senator Carl Hatch (D-New Mexico). It has been amended several times since then, most recently in 1993 and 2012.
What does the Hatch Act have to do with politics and elections?
Passed in response to accusations of corruption and abuse of power at the time, the 1939 law prohibited the intimidation or bribery of voters, restricted political campaign activities by federal employees, and prohibited officials paid with federal funds from using promises of jobs, promotions, financial assistance, contracts, or any other benefit to coerce campaign contributions or political support.
Does the law apply to me?
Yes, generally speaking, if you are a HUD employee. It applies to all civilian employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the President and the Vice President. It applies to you even if you are on leave, including leave without pay and furlough.
So, the Hatch Act applies to me even when I am off duty, such as on weekends?
Yes. If you only work on an occasional or irregular basis, however, you are subject to the restrictions only for those periods of time when you are engaged in government business.
What political activities are prohibited?
These are just a few of the limitations:
Wait, do those same rules apply to me when I'm not on duty?
The rules are a little different when you are not on duty or in a federal room or building. For example, you may place a campaign sign in your front yard, "like" a candidate for political office on social media as long as you are not using government equipment, and you may stand outside a polling place on Election Day and hand out brochures on behalf of a partisan political candidate or political party.
There are different guidelines for employees in some other agencies.
Where can I get more information?
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is the agency responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act. For more information, explanations, and exceptions to these rules, see the OSC website and the OSC booklet "Political Activity and the Federal Employee."
HUD & Union Sign Agreement on Pathways Program
Local 476 President Ashaki Robinson Johns Leads Union Negotiating Team
The Union reached an agreement with the Department on the implementation of a new Pathways Program that incorporates an Internship Program, a Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. Pathways programs are intended to provide clear paths to Federal internships and potential careers in Government for students and recent graduates.
The agreement includes two major provisions:
HUD will not announce any Pathways positions unless there are corresponding permanent positions available to which the participants may be converted. We want all Pathways participants to have a fair chance of becoming permanent employees at HUD.
Also, if the Department is imposing cost-saving measures such as furloughs or promotion freezes on bargaining unit employees, HUD will not hire any personnel from outside the Department on either a temporary or permanent basis. This helps protect you by ensuring funding isn't shifted to expand the workforce at your expense.
Congratulations to President Robinson Johns and the negotiating team for an excellent agreement.
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.
HUD Fails to Answer Local 476's Questions
About New WebTA System
On January 21, 2015, in response to limited information that was provided to some HUD employees, your Union asked a bunch of questions to find out more about the new WebTA system. Our questions included basic topics such as:
See our email to HUD for our complete request for information.
HUD Refused to Answer!
Management's only answer so far, even after the new system has been implemented: "We are making a determination as to its appropriate release." Can you imagine what would be inappropriate about informing the Department's employees? We can't either.
We had expected that a mere two months after the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) ordered HUD to post a notice promising to "respond timely to requests for information" made by AFGE Local 476 and Council 222, the Department would have learned its lesson. The FLRA had ordered the posting to settle an unfair labor practice charge that Local 476 brought against HUD.
Sadly, HUD would rather not give you the answers to straightforward (and we thought, fairly easy) questions. Instead, the Department allowed the conversion to the new system to proceed while sharing only the most minimal information.
Here's What We Do Know
HUD provided a checklist that all employees must follow in order to make sure that your account transitions smoothly. The checklist has links to YouTube videos that may be helpful.
See the checklist and make sure you complete each step by the deadline to ensure you are paid promptly.
Read the Supplement that HUD and AFGE Council 222 signed related to implementation of the new WebTA system.
Arbitrator Ruled that HUD Violated the HUD-AFGE Agreement
Regarding Certain Hiring Practices
In 2002, AFGE Council of HUD Locals 222 filed a grievance alleging that HUD violated the Parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement by not treating all employees fairly and equitably. Specifically, the Union alleged that:
The Union hired the law firm of Snider & Associates, LLC, to represent its interests, and though the case has gone on for more than ten years, the Union has prevailed. Arbitrator Andree McKissick ruled that HUD violated the Parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement and ordered that a large class comprising of HUD employees is eligible for promotion to the GS-13 level with back pay and other benefits. Because this case goes back to 2002, many back pay awards will likely be significant.
Many bargaining unit employees have already been contacted by attorneys from Snider & Associates. If you have not yet been contacted, you should expect to be contacted within the next few months. Please continue to cooperate with the attorney that reaches out to you. The information and data that the firm is collecting is very important to the case. Read more.
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.