Be sure to check out our Major Topics page for information on performance matters, teleworking, Metro parking benefits, and other current issues.
MetroRail Train Derailment:
Local 476 Requests Flexibility for Affected Commuters
AFGE Local 476 took immediate action upon learning of the Metro train derailment on Friday morning, July 29, 2016. Metro area commuters are already affected by Metro's SafeTrack project, which involves shutting various train lines to make necessary repairs. The current derailment shut down train service between the West Falls Church/McLean & Ballston Stations, affecting the Orange and Silver Lines.
In a July 29 email to HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti, the Union asked that the same flexibilities afforded to commuters affected by SafeTrack be extended to those affected by this derailment. These flexibilities include encouraging supervisors to permit 5-day per week telework, arrival times after 9:30am, and liberal leave policies.
Previously, HUD had refused to negotiate with the Union in response to our demand to bargain over the impact of SafeTrack on commuters. HUD initially unilaterally announced workplace flexibilities that incorporated almost all of Local 476's proposals, but later issued a joint statement with the Union. See below for more information about workplace flexibilities during SafeTrack.
Truth About LGBT Rights at HUD
Past President of AFGE Council 222 Corrects the Record
In an email message to all HUD employees, HUD Secretary Julián Castro completely ignored the Union's efforts and success in obtaining basic legal rights for HUD's LGBT employees.
Secretary Castro described the contributions of departing Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs Marion Mollegen McFadden, writing, "Before the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, she successfully championed protections for LGBT HUD employees, including clarification that an employee's sexual orientation may have no bearing on employment actions and establishment of the right to take medical leave to care for a domestic partner."
Carolyn Federoff, Past President and Past Executive Vice President of HUD's AFGE Council 222, set the Secretary straight in her reply, explaining that it was the Union's actions that provided and protected these rights for HUD employees:
I am offended that you have misrepresented Ms. McFadden’s involvement in the extension of workplace rights to LGBT HUD employees.
AFGE Council 222 with the assistance of AFGE secured workplace rights for LGBT HUD employees, including the right to take leave to care for domestic partners and their families in the 1990 HUD/AFGE Agreement. Then Secretary Kemp challenged these protections, and AFGE appealed to the Federal Labor Relations Authority which ruled in the Union’s favor.
During negotiations for the most recent contract, Management negotiators tried unsuccessfully to remove LGBT employees from the list of protected classes in Article 9. I witnessed it firsthand.
If Ms. McFadden helped extend these rights to employees beyond the AFGE bargaining unit since coming to HUD in 2001, then this is further proof of the value of securing these rights in a labor/management contract. My rights didn’t rely upon the generosity of an administration. They were established and protected by my Union.
Carolyn Federoff, Attorney
New England Regional Office of Counsel
Local 476 Offers Notary Services
Free for Members Only
AFGE Local 476 now provides notary services. The service is free for Local 476 members; non-members will be charged a fee. Please see Monique S. Love, Treasurer, in the Union office when you require notary services anytime in the future, or email Monique for her schedule.
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.
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 soliciting or receiving political contributions.
The Hatch Act 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 off duty or on leave, including leave without pay and furlough.
There are different rules about what is prohibited when you are on duty than when you are off duty, away from the workplace, and out of uniform. Read more about what is prohibited and what is permitted - and when.
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.