News Archive: 2012


Union Files ULP Regarding 7 FAM 1340

December 31, 2012:  Local 1998 ended 2012 by filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the agency.  The Foreign Affairs Manual section governing passport adjudication had been in development since 2007 and the Union believes it was denied appropriate bargaining concerning the dozens of changes before they were implemented.


Under Secretary of State Briefs Union on Sequestration

December 19, 2012:  1998 Vice President Boyd Hinton and Chief Steward Joel Warne received an update from Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy on sequestration contingencies.  Passport employees will not be impacted until sometime after January, even if failed deficit talks result in the automatic budget cuts.


Impasse Mediation Produces Miami Schedule Policy

December 14, 2012:  Faced with  an arbitration hearing, Passport Management and Local 1998 reached resolution on a work schedules policy for the Miami Passport Agency.  Most employees will be allowed to start 15 minutes earlier.  Rob Arnold assisted Miami Union officers Dominique Nowells and Ed Gonzalez.


Duty Officer Agreement Reached in San Diego

November 30, 2012:  San Diego officers Diana Dibble and Alex Abrego, in concert with local Management, successfully developed a rotational policy for the office Duty Officer Program


2012 Performance Standards Debated at Arbitration

November 28, 2012:  Passport Specialists and Union officers testified today at a hearing before Arbitrator Seymour Strongin.  The Union maintains that the manner in which the agency implemented the 2012 performance standards violates the collective bargaining agreement as well as the Statute.  NFFE General Counsel Stefan Sutich argued the case for the Local.


Federal Labor Relations Authority Rejects Charges

October 24, 2012:  The FLRA dismissed two Unfair Labor Practice charges made by Local 1998.  One concerned the creation and changes to the Issued In Error Panel; the other pertained to the Atlanta region's secret selection process for details to other agencies. 


Washington Seating Dispute Concluded

November 15, 2012:  A hearing was avoided by the signing of a settlement between the agency and Local 1998.  The terms include an assurance that the affected employee will have her own desk at the new location and a commitment from the agency to bargain appropriately in the future.


Agency Must Divulge Victims of Manager Crime

November 14, 2012:  After the San Francisco Fraud Prevention Manager was prosecuted for improper file searches, Senior Steward Gil Yap requested to know which employees' passport records were accessed by the manager.  The agency's refusal to provide those names was improper, the FLRA charged today.


APC Duty Officer Negotiations Completed

November 1, 2012:  Bargaining concluded in a signed agreement governing the Arkansas Passport Center duty officer program.  The Union opposed a duty officer rotation for an office with three Passport Specialists, but worked with APC Management to build in some protections for the employees.


Federal Labor Relations Authority Rejects Charges

October 24, 2012:  The FLRA dismissed two Unfair Labor Practice charges made by Local 1998.  One concerned the creation and changes to the Issued In Error Panel; the other pertained to the Atlanta region's secret selection process for details to other agencies. 


Union Schedules Arbitration Victory Upheld

October 24, 2012:  The FLRA dismissed the Passport Service's appeal of the decision that the agency violated the Work Schedules Act in Houston.  With the appeal dismissed, Management will be forced to comply with the arbitrator's award:  back pay for the employees kicked off their schedules.


Local 1998 Rep Elected as NFFE National VP

October 4, 2012:  The National Federation of Federal Employees held its 2012 convention in Portland, Oregon.  Local 1998's President Rob Arnold was elected from a crowded field of candidates to a new term as one of NFFE National's Vice Presidents.  The Merit System Protection Board's Susan Grundmann, who in the past led Local 1998 to arbitration victories as NFFE's General Counsel, was one of a number of important labor relation guests.


Work Schedule Negotiations Reach Fruition in Tucson

October 2, 2012:  Several intense negotiations sessions between Management and the Union culminated in a new agreement on work schedules.  Union and Management officials delivered in a big way, incorporating a 4/10 schedule as part of WPC's first schedules agreement.


IAMAW Announces 2013 Scholarship Contest

September 21, 2012:  The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced the beginning of its annual scholarship contest.  Local 1998 members with  sons or daughters graduating high school are encouraged to check this link for details.  Mail-in entries are due by February 25, 2013.


Tucson ULP Withdrawn in Exchange for Settlement

September 20, 2012:  Updating a previous story, WPC Senior Steward Joel Warne agreed to withdraw an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against Passport Services in exchange for Management signing a settlement that set down guidelines for forthcoming negotiations on work schedules.


Negotiations Commence in Massive DC-Area Move

September 13, 2012:  A move scheduled for early 2012 will affect employees at four different offices.  Negotiations concerning working conditions at the new space have begun, with Washington-area reps Melissa Toby, Karen Proctor-Adams, Josue Trinidad-Perez and Gerald Moore representing the employees.


Agreement Reached In Time For New Stamford Offices

September 12, 2012:  Negotiations between Connecticut Passport Agency Management and the Union negotiating team of President Rob Arnold and 1998 member Robert Speed produced the following seating agreement just a few days before PPT/CT employees were to set up shop at the agency's new/old home base of Stamford, Connecticut.


Charges Filed Against The National Passport Center

September 4, 2012:  In yet another litigation announcement, the FLRA announced it was filing charges against Passport Management for its refusal to provide Local 1998 Trustee Paul Barton with information about system failures at NPC.  The system problems are significant because they hamper employee ability to hit the agency's production standards


Charges Filed Against The Western Passport Center

August 31, 2012:  The Denver FLRA region announced it would file another complaint against The Western Passport Center for refusing to negotiate alternative work schedules.  The agency responded it was open to an FLRA settlement that obligates the agency to bargain the subject. 


Charges Filed Against Washington Passport Agency

August 25, 2012:  The Washington FLRA region sided with Local 1998 in deciding to file a complaint against Passport Services.  An employee was forced from her workstation of many years and Washington Management maintained it had no obligation to bargain over the change. A hearing is set for November.


Union Mourns Passing of Member Donna Haynes

August 23, 2012:  NFFE 1998 mourns the sudden loss of NPC's Donna Haynes.  A loyal and dedicated member of 1998, Ms. Haynes was seriously injured in an auto accident last week.  She will be greatly missed.


New Local 1998 Newsletter Available

July 25, 2012: Containing stories from reps in Atlanta, New York, Charleston and Seattle, the Union rolled out its latest newsletter today.


Settlement Reached Over Size of New Seattle Offices

July 24, 2012: A grievance filed well before the Seattle Passport Agency changed buildings finally reached resolution.  The settlement provides alternatives to the larger break room and Union office originally sought.


Agency Violation Acknowledged With PIERS Log

July 2, 2012: San Francisco Management responded to a Union grievance filed by Senior Steward Gil Yap.  The grievance maintained that employees still had the right to account for time spent maintaining a log of their PIERS searches.  The agency agreed that a first-line supervisor had been incorrect in claiming the PIERS MOU was no longer valid.


Arbitrator Orders Back Pay For Houston Employees

June 27, 2012: Arbitrator Normal Bennett delivered a ruling on the March 26 Houston hearing.  He sided with Local 1998, ruling that the agency improperly terminated its 4/10 schedules.  He ordered retroactive reimbursement for the night differential Houston employees would have been paid since 2010 if the agency had properly negotiated the change.


Union Prevails in Boston Arbitration Hearing

May 30, 2012: Arbitrator Barbara Zausner ruled that the Boston Passport Agency's Director violated the contract on multiple occasions by denying official time requests.  These denials hamstrung the local Steward's ability to represent her employees, some of whom were fighting for their careers.

San Diego Duty Office signing
San Diego Union and Management complete Duty Officer negotiations
WPC CWS signing 2012
Union and Management at WPC sign the office work schedule policy
Gerald Moore NFFE 1998

Gerald Moore, Michael McPherson and Corrina Davis at Placid Habor in April

Placid Harbor passport class

Michelle Salisbury gives presentation at the 1998 Local Lodge training at Placid Harbor

Rob Arnold FLRA

Rob Arnold at NFFE Convention with FLRA Authority Chairman Waller-Pope


Agency Settles Union Dues Withholding Grievance

May 22, 2012: Local 1998 and Management signed a settlement to remove the need for a hearing.  Secretary Treasurer Michelle Salisbury had filed a grievance concerning agency errors in withholding membership dues.  The agency granted the Union's full requested relief; no employees will be charged for any part of the money reimbursed to the Union.


Arbitrator Rules Against Union on Notational Hearing

May 22, 2012: Arbitrator Jerome Ross issued a decision in Management's favor to conclude an arbitration over Passport's notational system.  Ross ruled that Local 1998's grievance concerning the notational system arrived too late; although the system was implemented on the first of March, Ross ruled the January SOP started the 30-day clock for a grievance.


ADR Arbitration Called Off At Last Minute

May 21, 2012: A grievance concerning agency Management's obligation to participate in alternative dispute resolution and meetings related to grievances was called off.  The parties reached settlement the day before Local 1998 officers would have travelled to argue the case.


Union formally Reopens Contract Negotiations

May 10, 2012: NFFE 1998 President Rob Arnold sent notification to Passport Management that the Local seeks to renegotiate the existing collective bargaining agreement when it comes up for renewal this July.


Houston's James Rideaux and Butrina Tolbert prepare for the arbitration concerning work schedules termination


Stewards Take Advantage of Rare Training Opportunity

April 23, 2012: 38 Union reps from 17 different offices within Passport Services converged on Placid Harbor, Maryland this week.  IAMAW's scenic education center played host to Local 1998, allowing a week's worth of training on representational topics specific to Passport Services.  Pictured at right: Secretary/Treasurer Michelle Salisbury spells out the grievance process at a training session


Passport Services Brings Back SIA 2012 Standards

April 11, 2012: The previously-reported news of the suspension of newly-measurable production standards was announced nationwide by the agency.  The email, from the Office of Adjudication, declared that Diplomatic/Official/No Fee standards would count for employees of SIA.


Manager Reaction to Information Request Leads to ULP

April 16, 2012: Upon receiving an information request from Senior Steward Joel Warne, WPC's Assistant Director replied, but cc'd the entire office (to imply that Warne was inappropriately meddling in employee affairs).  Today, Management signed a posting to resolve the resulting ULP.


Agency Agrees To Reimburse HN Ex-Night-Shifters

April 13, 2012: Friday the 13th turns out not that unlucky for those who worked the former night shift at the Houston Passport Agency.  Incorrectly forced to work later than the rest of the agency on Christmas Eve, a grievance was filed on their behalf.  Today the agency responded, pledging to reimburse each affected employees for the error by local Management.


Passport Services Brings Back SIA 2012 Standards

April 11, 2012: The previously-reported news of the suspension of newly-measurable production standards was announced nationwide by the agency.  The email, from the Office of Adjudication, declared that Diplomatic/Official/No Fee standards would count for employees of SIA.


Agency Calls off Newly-Measurable 2012 Standards

April 3, 2012: Local 1998 inquired about reports that the newly-measurable Passport Specialist Production Standards for 2012 were not yet effectively measurable.  Passport Services responded that production standards for Applicant Response, Counter Inspection, as well as the Diplomatic, Official, and No Fee standards would not count for 2012.


Agency Admits Wrongdoing in WPC Leave Ban

March 28, 2012: In a nationwide electronic posting, Passport Services emailed all bargaining unit employees that it had unfairly implemented a change and refused to bargain over it.  WPC Management had suspended a 59-minute birthday leave policy that had been on the books since the agency opened.  Senior Steward Joel Warne filed an Unfair Labor Charge over the unilateral removal.  Besides the posting, local Management will also be required to negotiate over the 59 minute leave policy.


Arbitration: Houston - Termination of Night Shift CWS

March 26, 2012: Debate over the 2010 death of the night shift, which also spelled the end of the 4/10 schedule in Houston, finally went to hearing.  President Rob Arnold and Steward James Rideaux (pictured at right) testified about the contract violations and negative impact to employees arising from the termination of the compressed work schedule.


Respect and Dignity Commitment Reaffirmed at CPC

March 20, 2012: Local stewards received a response to a step one grievance concerning the behavior of a manager during a team meeting.  CPC management agreed with the Union’s assertions that the manager acted unprofessionally.


Arbitration: Boston - Official Time

March 6, 2012: The Union and Passport Services took a two-year long dispute concerning denials of official time in Boston to an arbitration hearing. NFFE General Counsel Stefan Sutich argued the Local's case.


March, 2012 Newsletter Distributed

March 1, 2012: Local 1998's first newsletter for 2012 shipped to all 28 agencies today.  It contains results from the year-end nationwide survey.



Arbitration: DC - Notational Audits

February 8 - 9, 2012:  In its first arbitration in almost three years, Passport Services and Local 1998 argued out the fairness/attainability of the notational system created in 2010.  Union officers from Seattle, Washington, WPC and NPC testified for the Union.  In its case, the agency stressed the planning and study that went into the system.


Union and Agency Reach Agreement on PIP Meetings

January 20, 2012: A matter that was about to go to hearing was settled amicably between the agency and Union.  Passport Services now agrees that employees are allowed to request and have union representatives along during performance-related meetings when the performance issue is the already subject of a grievance or unfair labor practice charge.

Awards Agreement Nets Improvements in Tucson

January 20, 2012: In response to an information request from WPC Senior Steward Joel Warne, the agency reported that, since negotiations on a WPC awards agreement were completed, employees covered by Local 1998 received $11,700 out of the $18,700 2011 WPC awards budget.


SF Agency and Union Agree on Duty Officer Policy

January 13, 2012: In collaboration with Local Management, San Francisco Senior Steward Gil Yap signed off on a new Duty Officer Agreement.  The main issue to be resolved was equitable assignment of after-hours cases.

Washington Management Refuses to Negotiate Seating

January 13, 2012: A Washington Passport Agency employee was ejected from the cubicle she had occupied for years.  Since the agency was unwilling to negotiate her seating, as it had with most other employees, Vice President Boyd Hinton filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge.


Agency and Local 1998 Settle ULP Dispute

January 11, 2012: The FLRA brokered a settlement in a long-standing dispute between the agency and Local 1998.  Thee Union had made proposals regarding multiple CPC changes in 2011 work processes.  When the agency later reneged or refused to bargain the matters, Vice President Boyd Hinton filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge.