Be sure to check out our Major Topics page for information on performance matters, teleworking, Metro parking benefits, and other current issues.
Union Demands Safeguards for Employee Health;
Management Refuses to Negotiate over Ebola Protections
The Union responded swiftly to a potentially serious incident in HUD's Fort Worth, Texas office, in which an employee who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus, and who had announced that exposure to co-workers, was subsequently out sick with symptoms that are connected to Ebola, such as fever and vomiting. Although, fortunately, the employee did not have Ebola, the situation highlighted the urgent need to have plans in place in case the spread of Ebola in the U.S. does reach a HUD office or a HUD employee.
On October 16, 2014, AFGE Council 222 President Holly Salamido submitted a demand to bargain to the Department over health and safety measures specifically related to the Ebola virus.
HUD refused to negotiate. The Department claims that procedures and protective actions taken in response to the Ebola virus are covered by Article 26, Safety and Health, of our collective bargaining agreement, Supplement 99, Pandemic Planning and Response Guidance, and the Department's own "Pandemic Planning and Response Guidance."
That's right. HUD thinks that occupational safety and health procedures and planning for an influenza outbreak will cover Ebola.
Your Union doesn't agree. And we told HUD why. Read the e-mail that President Salamido sent back to the Department (it also contains HUD's inadequate response to our demand to bargain), and the detailed memo that accompanied President Salamido's e-mail.
We didn't ask HUD to equip every employee with biohazard suits. Our demands were reasonable and would not cost the Department anything. We are disappointed by HUD's attitude.
While the Union sees no cause for panic, we do see a need to plan, prepare, and prevent future problems.
The Union cares about protecting employees, our families, and people with whom we come in contact. It does not seem that HUD management shares our concerns.
Union Office Moves During Renovation
While our former space is being renovated, the Union is located in Room 2254 in the HUD Headquarters building. Our phone numbers stay the same.
Concur Travel and Relocation System to Replace FedTraveler
We have concluded two agreements with HUD regarding implementation of the new Concur Travel and Relocation System, which will replace FedTraveler on October 1. Concur is the Federal Government’s E-Gov Travel Service 2 (ETS2) provider. Concur is a cloud-based service, currently used by more than 90 Federal agencies.
The first agreement provides for training of personnel who will use the system, either as travelers or approving officials.
The second agreement addresses both the implementation of the system and the reassignment of six affected employees in Headquarters and Fort Worth.
Management will bargain locally about employee moves and related issues. The reassignments are scheduled for January 1.
Management has agreed to allow us 30 days (instead of the usual 10) to request bargaining over any new information we learn about Concur through November 30, 2014. That gives us two months after system implementation to figure out if there are any new matters that need to be negotiated.
FLRA Upholds Union's Right to Attend and Participate in Formal Discussions
In 2012, Local 476 filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint against HUD with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The complaint arose when HUD refused to complete bargaining over Ginnie Mae's reorganization and Ginnie Mae officials subsequently ejected Union representatives from an all-staff meeting. Such meetings--scheduled in advance, with management officials present, a formal agenda, and mandatory attendance--are considered formal discussions. The law permits Union representatives to attend and participate in such meetings. Ginnie Mae had also failed to notify the Union of similar all-staff meetings that it held.
In response to the Union's complaint, the FLRA ultimately ordered Ginnie Mae to post a notice (by e-mailing it to all bargaining unit employees) in which Ginnie Mae promises to provide sufficient notice for Local 476 representatives to attend all formal meetings, and to permit employees to exercise the rights assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. Under the direction of the FLRA, Ginnie Mae and Local 476 signed a settlement agreement that set out the terms for Ginnie Mae's compliance; in return, the Union withdrew its complaint.
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.
HUD-AFGE National Contract Protects LGBT Community
by Carolyn Federoff, past president, Council 222 of HUD Locals
Did You Know?
A legally-binding union contract is often the only protection LGBT workers have to fight employment discrimination.
Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization and an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO that organizes mutual support between the Labor Movement and the LGBT Community for social and economic justice.
The EEO article of the HUD/AFGE Collective Bargaining Agreement includes additional protected classes beyond those protected under Title VII. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The HUD/AFGE Agreement also includes protection from discrimination based on "sexual preference and/or orientation.” There's a proud history behind that language, but we don't talk about it. I started to wonder why, and the only thing I can think of is because we had to sue the Department to get it, and we don't want to appear to be rubbing management’s nose in it. But, when you look at the history, the bargaining team that agreed to this milestone language--the first AFGE contract, and, we believe, the first federal employee contract to protect against LGBT discrimination--was composed of civil service managers, as well as union representatives.
During negotiations in 1988 and 1989, the parties agreed to extend non-discrimination protection to LGBT employees, and to recognize as family persons "related by affinity.” LGBT employees still couldn't file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, but they could file a grievance alleging discrimination in violation of the HUD/AFGE Agreement. During the agency head review of the final negotiated contract, Secretary Kemp struck these two down as "unlawful.” Needless to say, there were probably some management team members who were taken to the woodshed over their agreement to redefine family and protect LGBT employees.
AFGE, my union, appealed the decision to the FLRA. While on appeal, the HUD/AFGE Agreement was published and implemented without the "offending" language. The FLRA ruled in our favor in 1991 (39 FLRA 396), and the Department appealed the decision. Eventually, HUD decided not to pursue the matter further (perhaps because of a change in Administration).
Shortly thereafter, two replacement pages to the HUD/AFGE Agreement were sent to all AFGE bargaining unit members. The replacement pages included the language originally agreed to by the negotiations team.
When I received my copy, I didn't see it as a "celebration of diversity.” For me, it was an extension of equal employment opportunity rights. It's also an explanation of why GLOBE and the other special emphasis organizations irk me. They frequently undercut and undermine the value of the union. They present themselves as being able to establish better relationships than we can.
Well, as Robert Frost said, "good fences make good neighbors.” And good agreements make good relationships.
It may now seem obvious or even passé to protect LGBT employees in the workplace. But since the FLRA issued its ruling upholding the contract language Clinton's OPM found LGBT discrimination to be a prohibited personnel practice, covered by the Office of Special Counsel, and the Bush Administration cancelled that order. But it didn't matter at HUD, because we have a contract.
I owe my protection in the workplace to some brave civil service managers, to my union negotiation team members, and to AFGE, my national union, for fighting the court battle until it was won.
Don't celebrate my diversity. Recognize my rights, and provide an avenue for enforcement. Put it in my contract!
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.
HUD's Employee Satisfaction Rate Declines for Third Straight Year
See the full report of the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results.
You Said It: "HUD is the Worst Place to Work"
Employee Viewpoint Survey Shows HUD Tied for Last Place among Federal Agencies
Local 476 President Ashaki Robinson Johns Addresses Survey Findings
The evidence is in. HUD ranks (once again) as one of the worst places to work in the Federal Government. This is not news as most of us are aware of morale’s downward spiral across the Department in the past few years. As federal employees, we are assaulted on many fronts; conservatives don’t see the utility of federal service and liberals don’t think that we do enough to service our customers. Sadly, it seems as if we are also being attacked from within our agency by upper management that is constantly “transforming” the way that we do business. Read the full story.
In a March 2013 report to Congress, GAO noted that HUD has not created incentives or accountability for staff to report accurate workload data. Citing a June 2012 OPM review, GAO stated, "HUD’s human capital and workforce planning activities did not always follow key principles for planning, implementing, and evaluating the results of human capital management policies and practices." GAO concluded that "HUD continues to lack consistent, analytically-based data generated from an effective resource management system...management may not have complete information upon which to make effective resource estimation and allocation decisions." Read the GAO report.
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 3143 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.