News Archive: 2010

 

Officer Election Results Announced

December 28, 2010: The 1998 Election Committee announced the outcome of the officer elections for the term beginning Jan. 1, 2011.  Boyd Hinton is the new 1998 Vice President, Cheryl Miller the new Recording Secretary.  Thanks to everyone who ran for office and to the Election Committee for all the personal hours they devoted to mailing ballots.

 

2011 Union College Scholarships Available

December, 2010:  Applications are now available for the 2011 Union Plus Scholarship, which is open to union members, their spouses and dependent children.

 

Union Seeks Answers for Adjudicative Questions

November 24, 2010: NFFE 1998 filed a nationwide grievance against Passport Services, charging that the agency is unable to explain basic adjudication policy to its employees and the Union.

 

MEXICONOW Lobbying Conference Turned Back

November 23, 2010:  Local 1998 members in Seattle offered to assist IAM District 751 with its protest against MEXICONOW.  The organization, whose stated goal is to move American aviation jobs to Mexico, called off its Seattle conference upon learning of the protest.

 

Management withdraws Houston FSIP submission

November 9, 2010: NFFE 1998 received notification that Passport Services has withdrawn its request of the Federal Services Impasse Panel.  Management had asked the FSIP to rule that Management rights allowed it to terminate the Houston night shift.

 

Union Complains of Agency Technological Inefficiencies

November, 2010: Local 1998 filed a grievance over continuing technical gaffes that seem no closer to being fixed and waste taxpayer dollars.  Among these flaws is the Passport Card revision, which was given the go-ahead, despite shrinking the name field to a size unable to cope with thousands of applicants' names.

 

New Time and Motion Study Resolves Arbitration

November 12, 2010: An arbitration hearing to decide whether managers at NPC had improperly instituted their own unofficial production standard during 2009 was avoided by a settlement under which Passport Services agreed to conduct another Time and Motion study next year for the purpose of calculating a new production standard for Passport Specialists.

Union Complains of Agency Technological Inefficiencies

November, 2010: Local 1998 filed a grievance over continuing technical gaffes that seem no closer to being fixed and waste taxpayer dollars.  Among these flaws is the Passport Card revision, which was given the go-ahead, despite shrinking the name field to a size unable to cope with thousands of applicants' names.

 

New Time and Motion Study Resolves Arbitration

November 12, 2010: An arbitration hearing to decide whether managers at NPC had improperly instituted their own unofficial production standard during 2009 was avoided by a settlement under which Passport Services agreed to conduct another Time and Motion study next year for the purpose of calculating a new production standard for Passport Specialists.

  

Washington Agency Mourns Loss of 3 Employees

November, 2010: NFFE 1998 joins Washington Passport Agency employees in mourning the recent passing of three of their colleagues.  In a tragic chain of unrelated events, Zema Dwuma, Kermit Lee, and Natasha Tobin passed away within a few weeks of each other.

 

NFFE Officer Visits Hill in Support of New Passport Act

October 25, 2010: New Orleans Steward Jeanette Triplett used a recent trip to the DC area to pay a visit to her elected representatives on Capitol Hill.  Accompanied by her mother, former Union steward Princenola Allen, Triplett urged legislators from Louisiana to help combat identity fraud by backing the Passport Identity Verification Act (S. 3666).

 

Local Negotiates New Office Dress Code in New York

October, 2010: Local Union officers Two Feathers Neal and Millie Nunez negotiated a new office dress code agreement for the NY Passport Agency, making the wearing of ties optional for the first time.

 

1998 Officers in Latest NFFE National Newsletter

October 20, 2010: The third quarter NFFE National newsletter is out.  Appearing on its pages are 1998 President Rob Arnold, DC Senior Steward Melissa Toby and SIA Steward Akia West.

Jeanette Triplett (left) visits Capitol Hill in
support of the PPT Verification Identity Act

 

Nominations Begin For Elected Union Offices

October 8, 2010: The NFFE Local 1998 Election Committee distributed  nomination notices to all dues-paying Union members.  The nationwide positions up for election include: Union President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Recording Secretary.  The Senior Steward position at each office is also up for election.  Acceptance nominees will be verified in November and election ballots then mailed out.

 

Union Requests Info on Release of Employee's Email

October 7, 2010: Another passport employee was charged in federal court, accused of PIERS curiosity searches.  One of the employee's emails was reprinted in media reports of the indictment.  NFFE 1998 requested information from Passport Headquarters about the release of the emails.  Headquarters failed to respond to the inquiry. 

 

2010 Internal Controls Unfair Labor Charge Settled

September 28, 2010: NFFE 1998 and Passport Services came to agreement on a settlement for the second of two ULP charges the Union made against the agency over the time-consuming aspects of its internal control guidelines.  The Federal Relations Authority indicated agreement with the Union on both of the charges.  Final negotiations on the original 2009 charge have yet to be resolved.

 

Notice Posted To Resolve Unfair Labor Practice

September 27, 2010: Passport Services posted a notice at all agencies in which they vow to respect employees' Weingarten rights in the future.  The announcement, signed by the Passport DAS, was done to resolve an incident from June.  An employee had been ordered to attend a meeting with multiple managers, but her request for a Union representative at the meeting was denied.

A cake welcoming NFFE President

 Bill Dougan on his visit to PPT/NO

 

Union Invokes Arbitration on Production Quota

September 2, 2010: The Union took the unusual step of invoking arbitration today on two grievances that had not yet been responded to.  One grievance concerned the nationwide production standards; the second grievance covered the 2010 notational standards.  Both grievances were originally submitted to Passport Headquarters in late March.

 

Boston Gliding Schedule Reinstated, ULP Settled

August 26, 2010: NFFE 1998 national officers and Passport Headquarters resolved both a grievance and an Unfair Labor Practice charge.  The Union withdrew the ULP and grievance; Headquarters agreed to both notify national Union officers of Boston working condition changes and to return the "gliding" flexible work schedule option in  Boston.

 

Union Throws Support Behind Fraud-Detection Bill

August 13, 2010:NFFE 1998 sent a letter of support for the Passport Identity Verification Act.  Proposed by Senator Ben Cardin's, bill S. 3666 would increase information-sharing between agencies to assist the detection of fraud and identity theft.  The additional resources would mean increased accuracy in passport approvals.

 

Union Objects to Termination of Miami Work Schedules

August 6, 2010: An Unfair Labor Practice Charge was filed over the termination of all employee alternate work schedules in Miami.  Local managers had met with Miami stewards in an effort to formalize the long-standing local schedule system shortly before all alternate schedules were abolished (described as a decision made at Passport Headquarters).

 

Grievance Filed over Passport Internal Fraud Test

August 6, 2010: NPC Senior Steward Helen Bechard submitted a grievance charging that Passport Headquarters reneged on pledges made concerning the agency's PITT program.  The internal fraud testing program was discussed at last week's Senate hearings.

 

Union Submits Letter for Senate GAO/Fraud Hearing

July 29, 2010: The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing concerning a second, partially-successful attempt to fraudulently obtain passports. Local Vice President Karen Proctor-Adams, along with reps from NFFE national and Local 1998 were on hand for the hearing.  In addition to the testimony of Passport Services DAS Brenda Sprague and the GAO's Gregory Kutz, Local 1998 submitted written testimony for the hearing.  Subcommittee chair Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced the creation of the "Passport Identify Verification Act", intended to broaden the agency's access to information from other agencies<SEE "Passport Integrity" HOT TOPIC>

 

Union Cites Double Standard on Privacy Violations

July 26, 2010: NFFE 1998 filed a grievance charging Passport Headquarters' with disregard for maintaining an applicant's privacy at the same time the agency is dismissing employees for the same offense.

 

Colin Walle Steps Down from Union Presidency

July 20, 2010: Two-term President Colin Walle retired today from his Union post to accept the CSM post at the Minneapolis Passport Agency.  During his decade as a national officer, Walle helped establish Local 1998 as one of the most active federal employee unions in the nation.  VP Rob Arnold will step in to serve out the remainder of Walle's term.

 

Desk Seating ULP Resolved in Washington, DC

July 16, 2010: Passport Services and NFFE Local 1998 settled an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed by the Union in January after Management at the Washington Passport Agency unilaterally made changes in the Passport Specialists seating arrangements.

 

Boston Gliding Schedule Reinstated, ULP Settled

August 26, 2010: NFFE 1998 national officers and Passport Headquarters resolved both a grievance and an Unfair Labor Practice charge.  The Union withdrew the ULP and grievance; Headquarters agreed to both notify national Union officers of Boston working condition changes and to return the "gliding" flexible work schedule option in  Boston.

 

Rob Arnold Selected as new NFFE National VP

July 13, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 Vice President Rob Arnold was selected to serve as one of seven NFFE National Vice Presidents, replacing NFFE Local 1998 President Colin Walle on the National Executive Council

 

Unilateral 2010 ICG Changes Result in ULP Charge

July 6, 2010: Following up on unilateral changes in the 2009 Internal Controls Guidelines (ICG) - see June 23rd entry - the Union filed a ULP charge over unilateral changes to the 2010 ICG that were also made without bargaining with the Union. 

 

Unfair Labor Practice Notice Posted by Management

June 23, 2010: Passport Services Management posted a notice acknowledging its obligation to bargain with NFFE Local 1998 over changes to the January 2009 Internal Controls Guidelines, after the Union had filed a ULP. The FLRA approved the settlement terms. Management will now bargain over the Union's proposals. 

 

Two Union Reps Receive Intense Negotiations Training

June 14, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 Senior Steward (PPT/CO) Corrina Davis and Union Steward (PPT/CG) Jeri Titus began an intensive week-long Federal Employees Collective Bargaining course at the IAMAW's Winpisinger Education and Technology Center.

Grievance Filed over AWOL Improperly Charged

May 21, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 VP Rob Arnold filed a Step 2 Grievance with Passport Services HQ to contest AWOL being charged to an employee. 

     

Union Reps Attend IAMAW/NFFE Legislative Conference

May 12, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 sent Rob Arnold and Colin Walle to the Union's annual "Lobby Week" in Washington, DC.  The delegates heard informative speaches from a number of Congressional Representatives, Senators, and other speakers, and also visited Capitol Hill to express concerns about a number of issues affecting working people. 

ULP Filed over Weingarten Rights Violation

May 12, 2010: The Union filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against Passport Services Management for refusing to allow an employee to exercise her Weingarten Rights. The employee was required to meet with 4 managers who refused to allow the employee to have a Union representative present, despite her request.

 

 

Local 1998 Receives Membership Increase Award

May 11, 2010: NFFE recognized six locals with an Organizing Award for membership increases in 2009, and Local 1998 was one of the recipients!  Membership has increased from 353 to 450 members in 16 months. 

  

Chicago Work Schedule Dispute Resolved

May 7, 2010: The Union and Management cancelled an arbitration hearing scheduled for June 9th in Chicago after settling a dispute over the termination of the 4/10 Compressed Work Schedule on the night shift that the Union had grieved in October 2009.  As a result, Chicago now has a local CWS agreement that transparently sets out the rules, starting in June there will be 4/10 CWS schedules on the day shift, the twenty-two (22) affected employees will each receive $1800.00, and Management committed to a fair rotation of employees through assignments. 

 

Union & Management Settle ULP Over Job Elements

April 28, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 & Passport Services settled a ULP filed by the Union over the 2008 change in job elements for File Assistants, Contact Representatives, Processors, and Cashiers. 

  

ULP Settled re: Outreach Program at CPC

April 21, 2010: The Union and Management settled a ULP filed by the Union over the procedures for assigning employees to outreach events, such as passport acceptance training, at the Charleston Passport Center (CPC).  The Union withdrew the ULP charge filed against Management.  CPC Union and Management negotiators reached a local agreement on the procedures on April 20th. 

 

Chicago FLRA Office Concludes Issuance of Complaint in Management's ULP Charge Not Warranted

April 15, 2010: The Chicago Regional Office of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) issued a letter in response to Passport Services' November 13, 2009 ULP charge filed against NFFE Local 1998 (the 1st time ever that Management filed a ULP against the Union).  The letter concluded that "the issuance of a complaint in this charge is not warranted," determining that "the evidence does not establish that the Union engaged in bad faith bargaining in violation of [the law]."  The letter explained: "the Union's national President has a right under the Statute [5 U.S.C. 71] to oversee negotiations at all levels of the bargaining unit." 

 

Grievance Resolved re: Official Time for MSPB

April 12, 2010: The Union and Management resolved a grievance filed by the Union after Management officials denied official time for a Union representative to assist an employee before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). 

  

New Secretary-Treasurer for NFFE Local 1998

April 12, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 welcomed a new Secretary-Treasurer, Michelle Salisbury, after former S/T Jennifer Gile was promoted to a supervisory position.  Michelle previously served as a Union Steward at the Seattle Passport Agency. 

  

Grievance Filed Over Adjudication Quotas

March 31, 2010: The Union filed a grievance arguing that the production standards established on March 1st are not fair or reasonable. 

  

Grievance Filed Over Notational Policy

March 30, 2010: The Union filed a grievance alleging that Management violated the Master Agreement and committed an Unfair Labor Practice in the manner in which the notational policy was established. 

  

Latest Edition of Newsletter Published
March 23, 2010: The 18th edition of the Union newsletter, "One Voice, Union Strong," was published.  The newsletter noted that our membership has grown to 444, up from 369 in April 2009. 

  

Ergonomics MOA Signed by Union and Management

February 25, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 Secretary-Treasurer Jennifer Gile and Recording Secretary Susan Lagle signed an Ergonomics Memorandum of Agreement with Passport Services Management that will provide for ergonomic equipment for employees, including electric hole punchers and staplers, upon request. 

  

National Union/Management Committee Meeting Held

February 23-25, 2010: The Union and Management held their annual Union/Management Committee Meeting in Seattle, WA. For the first time, the parties held the meeting outside of Washington, DC.  The parties discussed a number of issues, including performance standards, safety, ergonomics, respect and dignity, anti-fraud resources, and instructions. 

  

NFFE Local 1998 Recognized for Membership Growth

February 15, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 was one of five NFFE locals (there are nearly two hundred total) recognized by the NFFE Organizing Committee for membership growth in the past year: one Local 1998 Union representative will receive a trip to Washington, DC in May to participate in the IAMAW's Legislative Conference

    

Employees Need Time to Read Important Instructions

February 12, 2010: The Union filed a Step 2/Final Step grievance with HQ, asking for more time for employees to read a new, lengthy instruction on passport procedures and notations. 

 

ULP Filed after CPC Management Terminated Employee Participation in Outreach Program

January 22, 2010: The Union filed a ULP after Charleston Passport Center Management ended participation in the outreach program. 

  

ULP Filed at Washington Agency re: Desk Moves

January 5, 2010: After Management at PPT/WN made changes in desk arrangements, contrary to a previous agreement and settlement of a grievance, the Union filed a ULP with the FLRA. 

 

Union Pushes for Expanded Work Schedule Options

June 10, 2010: NFFE Local 1998 has been advocating for the expansion of Compressed Work Schedule (CWS) options in Passport Services. Union reps at the Boston and New Orleans offices have negotiated to impasse over proposals to increase CWS options for employees; the disputes have been referred to the national level. The Union also distributed a survey at the Charleston (SC) Passport Center to gauge employee interest and preferences for a CWS local agreement.  Union reps in other offices are also seeking to negotiate local CWS agreements. In addition, the Union advocated for continuing to allow supervisors and managers to work CWS on a Department of State "sounding board" discussion.