AFGE Local 476

Furlough 2013 Information

Eddie Eitches, President of Council of HUD Locals 222 filed a grievance challenging the furloughs imposed by management. HUD had agreed to use all available money to reduce furlough days, but it appears that they are doing the exact opposite.

The grievance went to arbitration. A hearing was scheduled for August 13 and 14, 2013. The Deputy Secretary and Council President Eddie Eitches have been meeting continuously on trying to reach a settlement of the grievance. They expect to reach an agreement by August 9, so Eddie decided to accept management’s request that the hearing be postponed.

As you know, HUD has announced a massive reorganization of our multifamily office, as well the closure of 16 field offices. They are spending money on buy-outs, relocations and field office reconfigurations, while they are furloughing employees. This is a violation of our Memorandum of Understanding.

Signed MOU on Implementation of Furloughs

On March 15, Council 222 of HUD Locals and HUD signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the implementation of possible furloughs at HUD. Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones summarized some key points in his March 19 message.

The Agreement provides several protections in response to concerns voiced by employees:

  1. Maintaining established compressed work schedules. Employees on 5/4-9 schedules make keep their established schedule as long as they shift their 8-hour day to a furlough day. Employees on 4-10 schedules may keep their established schedule for non-furlough weeks, but will need to change to four 8-hour days for the furlough weeks (such as is done for training and travel).
  2. Delayed furlough implementation. The earliest furlough date will be May 24, a pay period later than the Department initially proposed. This will allow employees more time to prepare financially, and lawmakers more time to resolve the budget issues.
  3. Reducing all other possible costs as much as practical to minimize the need for furloughs. A hiring freeze on outside hires was put in place on March 4. There is no internal hiring freeze, and career-ladder merit promotions and within-grade increases will not be affected.
  4. Imposing furloughs fairly across all positions, including SES and managers. Part-time employees will be subject to a pro-rated number of furlough hours, and, if necessary, will adjust their schedules so that a work day falls on a furlough day.
  5. The MOU preserves the increased transit subsidy of $245/month.

While a number of employees asked for flexibility in scheduling their furlough dates, the Department insists that it would not be practicable to accommodate individual schedule requests (the standard specified in the national contract).

Council President Eddie Eitches Speaks Out on Sequestration

Listen now. Eddie Eitches spoke with Federal News Radio's "Inside Government" about the devastating impact sequestration would have on formerly homeless, low income and disabled individuals and also discussed the Union's work with management to negotiate benefits for employees. Eitches joined other AFGE leaders in discussing the problems and challenges presented by sequestration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions the Union has received regarding possible furloughs. See below for links to OPM Guidance. We also have background information on our communication and negotiations below. HUD provided a Q&A Fact Sheet as well as more sequestration information on its HUD@Work site. For information about help available from the EAP, see below.

Is the notice from HUD to the Union the 30-day notice to employees about the furloughs?
No. Employees will receive written notice directly from HUD at least 30 days before any furlough is imposed.

How much furlough time is expected?
The maximum amount of furlough currently anticipated is capped at 56 hours (seven 8-hour days). Part-time employees will be subject to a proportionate number of hours (e.g., a 20-hour/week employee will have 28 hours of furlough time). If HUD determines that more furlough time is needed, the Department must formally notify the Union again before notifying employees.

Can I pick my own furlough dates?
No, the Department insists that flexible furlough dates would not be practicable to implement.

What are the furlough days?
The anticipated furlough days are May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22, August 2, August 16, and August 30.

What if I am not scheduled to work on a furlough day?
If you are scheduled to take leave on a furlough day, you should rescind your leave request for that date. If a furlough date is a non-scheduled work day (such as a compressed day off), you must change your schedule so that an 8-hour work day (or pro-rated equivalent for part-time employees) coincides with the furlough date.

How will furloughs affect alternative work schedules?
Employees on a 5-4/9 schedule must ensure that their 8-hour day is on the furlough date, changing their schedule if necessary. 4/10 employees need to adjust their schedule for only the furlough week (not both weeks of the pay period) so that they work only four 8-hour days and have one 8-hour furlough day. Compressed days off may not fall on furlough dates. Under current policies, employees who need to adjust alternative work schedules should remember to submit all the proper forms as required by the Alternative Work Schedule Handbook.

How will furloughs affect telework schedules?
Telework agreements remain in place during the furlough period. The Department will not rescind or reduce telework arrangements. If your telework day falls on a furlough day, you may change your telework day that week, based on an email from Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones, which says that "Employees will be allowed to swap their regular telework day(s) within the week when a furlough day(s) is/are taken on a regular telework day." See the Deputy Secretary's message.

Will holiday pay be affected if a furlough day is the day before or after a holiday?
Holiday pay should not be affected as long as employees are in a pay status for at least one of the days before or after the holiday. Leave is considered a pay status. So, if you are at work or on leave on July 3, and July 5 is a furlough day, you should be paid for July 4. For more information, please see OPM's guidance on holiday pay.

What if my compressed day off is on the holiday during a furlough pay period?
New Guidance: As of May 21, the Union has received the following guidance from HUD: "The furlough situation is an exception to a normal pay period with a Federal Holiday. In this situation, the furlough is the 8-hour day for all employees except part-time employees. Our agency policy states that the eight hour day and the off day should not be in the same work week, therefore the employee should select a day off (instead of Friday and Monday) in the second week of the pay period. The furlough day is considered a work day but the hours are coded as non-pay hours (leave of absence without pay). Therefore, if the employee selects Tuesday, May 27th as the off day, they will receive pay for the Holiday. This was confirmed by OPM policy."

There are some conflicts among HUD's policy statements, including HUD and OPM guidance that requires that in-lieu-of holidays be taken on the workday BEFORE the holiday. Based on that, the Union's earlier advice was as follows:

If your compressed day off falls on a holiday, you will take the preceding workday as an in-lieu-of holiday. For Memorial Day and Labor Day, there is a furlough day on the Friday before each holiday. The preceding workday would be the Thursday before the holiday.

Employees need to make sure that when they adjust their schedules, they remain in a pay status (either work or paid leave) on at least one of the days immediately before or after the holiday. For example, you do not want to have a compressed day off on the Tuesday after a Monday holiday, because that would put you in a non-pay status on both Sunday and Tuesday, causing you to lose the holiday pay.

In planning a schedule to accommodate holidays, furlough days, and compressed days off, remember that employees on 4/10 go to 5/8 the week of the furlough and those on 5-4/9 simply reschedule their 8-hour day to fall on the furlough. Examples of possible schedules are:

For people on 4/10:

Week 1: M - 8 hrs regular, Tu - 8 hrs regular, W - 8 hrs regular, Th - 8 hrs holiday leave, F - 8 hrs furlough unpaid
Week 2: M - compressed day off, Tu through F - 10 hrs regular

For people on 5-4/9:

Week 1: M - 9 hrs regular, Tu - 9 hrs regular, W - 9 hrs regular, Th - 9 hrs holiday leave, F - 8 hrs furlough unpaid
Week 2: M - compressed day off, Tu through F - 9 hrs regular
Note that the compressed day off might also be in Week 1 on Monday or Tuesday, but not Wednesday.

There is a slightly different situation for the week of July 4, where Thursday is a holiday and Friday is a furlough day, but the scheduling would work out approximately the same. In adjusting schedules, employees will need to be sure that they do not schedule an unpaid day, such as a compressed day off, on July 3.

Will my leave accrual be affected by the furlough days?
No. OPM's guidance says that if an employee is furloughed for part of a pay period, the employee’s leave accrual will generally not be affected for that pay period.

What if I am in a travel status on a furlough day?
OPM states that agencies must provide per diem or actual expenses to employees whose travel status requires a stay that includes a furlough day. If you're furloughed, however, you won't be paid and you can't earn comp time or credit hours.

How will furlough days affect my plans to retire?
According to OPM's information on furlough and retirement, a furlough generally will not affect an employee's high-3 average pay unless the furlough causes the employee to be in a nonpay status for more than 6 months during the calendar year.

How will part-time employees be affected, especially if a furlough day falls on a scheduled day off?
Part-time employees will be subject to a pro-rated amount of furlough time. They will have to adjust their schedules so that furlough dates are scheduled work dates.

I have a reasonable accommodation; will that be affected?
No, established reasonable accommodations will not be affected. New requests for reasonable accommodations will not be denied due to the furlough.

May I check my e-mail on furlough days?
You may not perform any government work on a furlough day. You may use Departmental e-mail and access Departmental systems during furlough times to obtain information, communicate with Union representatives, and otherwise make minimal use of the systems as long as you do not perform HUD work.

OPM Guidance

OPM provides information about furloughs at Administrative Furlough Guidance and Supplemental Guidance. See OPM's Administrative Furlough page for more information on administrative furloughs. OPM states that furlough time generally is treated like regular leave without pay.

For information on how your leave accrual and other benefits might be affected, see OPM's Addendum 2 to its Administrative Furlough Guidance and also OPM's Extended Leave Without Pay datasheet.

Regarding holiday pay, OPM states "Employees who are in a non-pay status for the workdays immediately before and after a holiday may not receive compensation for that holiday." Generally, employees will be paid for holidays as long as the furlough day is either before or after a holiday.

Background Information: Communications Between the Union and HUD

Union's First Demand to Bargain

On February 15, 2013, Council 222 of HUD Locals submitted an initial demand to bargain to HUD management to negotiate the terms of a possible furlough of HUD employees as a result of the sequestration requirement in the Budget Control Act of 2011. HUD did not respond to this demand to bargain.

Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones Speaks with Union Leaders

In a February 25 conference call with Union representatives, HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones explained how HUD plans to implement furloughs, if sequestration is ordered.

 

Deputy Secretary Jones pledged to provide official notice to the Union today and promised to bargain. In an effort to reduce the impact of sequestration on employees, Jones said that HUD will curtail travel and training, will not renew contracts, and will impose a hiring freeze. He expects that the required 30-day notices informing employees of the furloughs will be issued next week, unless sequestration is avoided.

During the call, Council President Eddie Eitches stated that regarding the issue of minimizing furlough days, "The goal is not seven but zero."

Deputy Secretary Jones Responds to Union Questions

During the February 25 conference call, Deputy Secretary Jones answered questions asked by the Union representatives.

Union: Will performance standards be adjusted so furlough days don't hurt ratings?
Deputy: We will work with the Union on this. No one should be harmed as a result of sequestration.

Union: When bargaining will begin?
Deputy: Either later today [February 25] or within 24 hours, but we should wait until we get sequestration order.

Union: Are you open to flexible furlough plans, such as letting some employees take all their furlough days at once? Employees in some states are eligible for unemployment benefits if they are not paid for 7 consecutive days. get
Deputy: We want to keep it simple by having everyone on the same schedule, but I am open to your ideas. Also, there may be fewer than 7 furlough days.

Union: What if being in a non-pay status before or after a holiday affects being paid on the holiday?
Deputy: If that’s the case, we won’t do it. [See above for OPM information regarding holiday pay.]

Union: What will happen to planned construction and moves? lease cost reduction?
Deputy: It depends on how long sequestration and the resulting budget cuts last.

HUD Provides Union with Notice of Proposed Furlough

On February 26, HUD provided the Union with a Notice of Proposed Furlough. The notice formally informed the Union that the Department may impose furloughs of up to 7 work days. It also provided the Union with a proposed letter to bargaining unit employees. The Union responded by filing a Demand to Bargain and a Request for Information with the Department on March 1.

EAP Help Available

The Employee Assistance Program has issued a flyer on ways the EAP can help if you experience problems or have concerns related to sequestration and impending furloughs. The EAP is a professional service that provides information, counseling, resource identification, and support to all employees. You can call the EAP 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year at 1-800-222-0364 (TTY: 888-262-7848).