News Archive: 2013
Management Obligated to Bargain 7 FAM 1340
December 20, 2013: The Washington region of the FLRA found merit in a ULP from Local 1998. The Union sought relief for the agency's refusal to bargain over the numerous changes mandated in the multi-hundred page revision of the Foreign Affairs Manual.
Leave Restored to New York Employees
December 17, 2013: New York Senior Steward Andrew Woodford objected to Local Management's requirement that employees observe their "8-hour day" on holidays. The Agency made the Union whole by researching the schedule back to 2008. Affected employees were credited with between one and 38 hours of comp time, depending on the length of time they were on the compressed Schedule.
Temperature Problems Addressed in DC
December 10, 2013: President Rob Arnold inquired with the agency about heating issues at the new "CA World" Building. Hats and coats were necessary for warmth in some parts of the building. Technology Operations Management took action to fix the problem.
Violations Acknowledged in Seattle
November 18, 2013: Senior Steward Sue Lamie's grievance regarding a supervisor's abuse of authority was answered today. Seattle Management agreed and had the supervisor apologize to the employee.
Two Grievances Filed
November 15, 2013: NFFE 1998 produced two grievances today. L.A. officer Lynette Frowner submitted one concerning inappropriate managerial conduct in Los Angeles; President Rob Arnold filed a second that disputed the need for an employee's PIP.
CBA Bargaining Continues
November 8, 2013: Two weeks of negotiations in the nation's capital produced two more contract articles now agreed to. Numerous differences on such issues as the performance system remain. The Parties are discussing continuing bargaining in early 2014.
Agency Calls Off Two Production Quotas
October 17, 2013: A Union grievance concerning flaws in electronic measurement of the Applicant Response standard received an indirect answer today. Passport Headquarters acknowledged the flaws, cancelling the production quotas for both Applicant Response and Counter Inspection for 2013.
Management Wins Houston Nonpayment Arbitration
October 15, 2013: Arbitrator Clark rejected NFFE 1998's arguments that the Agency's failure to pay 28 Houston employees for nearly a year constituted a violation of a 2012 award. He found the agency's 8-month reluctance to begin CWS bargaining excusable in light of managerial personnel changes.
New Issue of One Voice, Union Strong Ships
October 10, 2013: Editor Sue Lamie declared the latest issue of the Local's award-winning newsletter ready for printing and national distribution.
Former Officer Gone, But Not Forgotten
October 1, 2013: We were saddened to learn of the passing of former officer Mirna Lopez. Never afraid to stand up for her co-workers, Lopez served as a Steward in New Orleans until her retirement in 2009. Her family is requesting donations for burial expenses.
BIG Ruling on Agency Awards Distribution
September 16, 2013: Arbitrator Jerome Ross issued a decision on the July awards arbitration. Ross determined that Passport Management wrongly steered the majority of agency Quality Step Increases towards members of Management (which negatively impacted taxpayers - in the form of inflated awards budgets - as well as bargaining unit employees).
Transfer Process Moving Towards Resolution
September 13, 2013: Passport Management responded to a grievance on pursuing its own subjective preferences in selections for transfer opportunities. The agency responded to the Union that it would henceforth consider candidates for transfer through an open and impartial process.
T.O. Seating Finalized
September 11, 2013: The agency and Union signed an agreement for Technology Operations seating at the new "CA World" Headquarters. The agreement provides for the employee tour of the new facility prior to selecting seats.
DC Move Goes To Impasse
August 29, 2013: Disputes over working conditions DC-area employees would face upon moving into a new building on 19th Street NW were resolved before the impasse panel today. FSIP Member Wasserman guided the two sides to a mutually-agreed to settlement.
FLRA Overturns CPC Parking Ruling
August 28, 2013: A ruling that CPC Management was free to leave intact a Management ban on night shift re-parking was overturned. Vice President Boyd Hinton's ULP was supported by NFFE Counsel Stefan Sutich's submission protesting of the initial hands-off decision.
NFFE Prevails in Official Time Hearing
August 12, 2013: Local 1998, ably represented by IAM attorney Maria Roeper, won back the official time schedules of officers Michael McPherson and Gerald Moore. The arbitrator determined that Management at Law Enforcement Liaison did not have the right to uniterally decide the appropriate amounts of official time for the officers.
Payment Calculations Disputed
August 8, 2013: Local 1998 filed a grievance over inaccurate payment amounts for the former Houston night shift workers. The agency reimbursed the employees, under a year-old arbitration award, a total that exceeded $160,000. The agency took deductions from the employee (up to 90%) for leave taken by the employees, though they were never notified that leave would affect their compensation.
FLRA Finds Retaliation in San Francisco
July 17, 2013: Passport Management in San Francisco agreed to resolve an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed by Steward James Lensen-Callas. Local Management signed a posting agreeing not to commit further acts of retaliation against Union officers.
Arbitration: Awards Information and Fairness
July 10, 2013: At the week's second arbitration, Trustee Paul Barton explained what agency statistics revealed about the split of awards between employees and managers. President Rob Arnold testified that the year 2010 is unique in offering an objective gauge of Management performance.
Arbitration: Failure to Bargain Schedules
July 8, 2013: Houston Senior Steward Butrina Tolbert testified to numerous 2012/2013 requests to bargain compressed work schedules. Labor and Management met an arbitration to debate the speed with which the agency complied with the arbitration decision from last year.
New York Processing Agreement Completed
June 26, 2013: Local 1998 Officers in New York and local Management concluded talks today concerning the length of rotational assignments for processing employees.
Agency Acknowledges Weingarten Violation
June 18, 2013: Recording Secretary Liza Escobar's ULP charge concluded with Passport Management admitting that an El Paso manager improperly denied an employee the right to a Union representative.
Union Prevails in WPC Dress Code Dispute
June 18, 2013: In its first arbitration decision from the impasse panel, Local 1998 emerged victorious on WPC's office dress code. The proposal from Chief Steward Joel Warne and Senior Steward Kenneth James to include a "dress down" summer, was determined more reasonable than the agency's proposal.
Agency Denies State Database Hacked
June 5, 2013: In response to online reports that an agency database containing employees' private information was leaked by an anti-government group, Passport Services denied any such database was published online. Local 1998 has filed an information request.
Deal Struck in Seattle Impasse Proceeding
May 31, 2013: Minutes before an impasse would have proceeded to the hearing phase, the Union and Management reached a compromise that provides employees with more window seats and departs from the current "supervisor line of sight" seating concept.
Agency Admits Lapses on Performance Plan Grievance
May 29, 2013: Passport Management acknowledged that it should have met with the Union concerning changed performance plans at the Law Enforcement Liaison office. The agency agreed to Alternative Dispute Resolution for the matter.
Agency Admits to Bad Faith Bargaining
May 21, 2013: Passport Services signed a settlement committing to a posting at five DC offices and to provide information needed in negotiations for the move to the new "C.A. World" building.
Agency Agrees to Rescind Reprimand
May 8, 2013: In a response to a grievance concerning a debate on adjudication policy, Connecticut Management withdrew a reprimand against Senior Steward Robert Speed, though the agency maintained the grievance was without merit.
Newsletter # 24 Rolls Off the Presses
May 5, 2013: Coinciding with the 125th anniversary of the formation of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Local 1998 releases its latest nationwide newsletter.
Duty Officer Agreement Reached in New Orleans
May 2, 2013: Senior Steward Debra Reese-Jolly and her bargaining team reached agreement with local Management on the new Duty Officer policy for New Orleans
FLRA Sides With Union On Employee Warnings
May 1, 2013: The Agency settled an Unfair Labor Practice Charge filed by Chief Steward Joel Warne. After the agency insisted that employees had received lawful warnings prior to being interrogated over improper conduct, the Union requested copies of the warnings. The Agency refused to provide them until the FLRA became involved.
Contract Bargaining Commences
April 15, 2013: Face-to-face negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement began in Washington DC. On the Union side of the table for the first session are Gerald Moore (LE), Boyd Hinton (CPC), Rob Arnold (PT/SE), Paul Barton (NPC), Liza Escobar (PT/AT) and Chief Negotiator Steve Flory.
Performance Standards Hearing Produces BIG Ruling
April 18, 2013: Arbitrator Strongin ruled on the 2012 Passport Specialist Performance Standards. His decision found the desk and counter production standards to be appropriate, but also determined that the Agency's Significant Knowledge Error/Critical Element 1a system is unfair. Strongin found the agency obligated to bargain over Union proposals that request extra time for extra tasks.
Union Requests FLRA Enforcement
March 22, 2013: NFFE 1998 Trustee Paul Barton requested FLRA enforcement of a ULP settlement. Management had committed to providing data on computer failures that hindered employee productivity and ratings. The information is yet to provided, four months after the settlement was signed.
Agency Extends Apology to Employee for Error
February 27, 2013: In response to a grievance by Vice President Boyd Hinton, Passport Headquarters issued an apology to an employee whose admonishment listed incorrect numbers as the basis.
ULP Charge Dropped To Get Time & Motion Data
February 22, 2013: Union and Management jointly agreed today to posting language to settle an Unfair Labor Practice Charge. Information requested in November, 2011 about the Time and Motion study was withheld from the Union until the FLRA's Washington region stated an intent to file charges.
Grievance Filed Over Inaccurate Agency Claims
February 22, 2013: Local 1998 charged multiple agency officials, including the Union-Management Liaison, with making innacurate statements in an attempt to conceal which employees' passport files had been inappropriately breached by a rogue manager.
PPT Headquarters Admits Fault on Notification
February 20, 2013: Faced with a stated intent by the FLRA to file charges, Passport Management agreed to a posting at WPC. The agency conceded that notification on discipline decisions should go to the employee's representative as well as the employee.
Leave Agreements Negotiated in San Diego, Houston
Initial CBA Proposals Exchanged
February 15, 2013: NFFE 1998 's bargaining team swapped its first round of proposals with Management, marking the beginning of negotiations for a new contract. Almost all articles in the agreement are pegged to be rewritten, so the next contract is bound to turn out noticeably different than the present version (the terms of which remain in effect until the new agreement is finished).
OSC Eyes Prohibited Personnel Practice
February 6, 2013: The Office of Special Counsel sent word that DOS decisions to impose sanctions on Chief Steward Joel Warne merit further investigation. OSC is concerned two suspensions may represent retaliation for Warne's filing of two whistleblower disclosures. Both disclosures concerned the legality of passport adjudication policies.
Agency Accepts Settlement on San Fran PIERS ULP
January 22, 2013: The FLRA directed a settlement to avoid the need of filing charges against the Agency. Senior Steward Gil Yap filed a ULP after his information request was denied. Passport Management had resisted revealing the names of the women whose passport files were inappropriately accessed by a former San Francisco manager.
NFFE 1998 makes the cover (kind of) of NFFE's Federal Employee
Agency Vows to Pay Up - Again
January 18, 2013: With an arbitration cancellation deadline looming, the Union and Management came to an agreement that (hopefully) resolves the agency's failure to pay official time reimbursements from a number of prior contract violations that were long thought to have been dealt with.
Working Group Briefs Union on Time and Motion Study
January 18, 2013: The Agency flew four Local 1998 officers to Los Angeles to hear a briefing on Management's plans to conduct a Time and Motion study for 2013. The Union recommended an industrial engineering expert to verify the study's methodology; Management was not immediately open to the idea.
Favoritism in Hiring Decisions Addressed
January 14, 2013: Hearing of numerous instances where qualified employees were passed over for promotion due to an agency pattern of selecting Foreign Service Officers, Chief Steward Joel Warne submitted an OSC complaint to clarify the legality of the practice
CPC Mediation Results in Schedules Agreement
| January 10, 2013: 1998 Vice President Boyd Hinton and the
officers of the Charleston Passport Center successfully bargained
to resolve a stalemate over office schedules.
Local Management had failed to honor the existing negotiated
agreement, so FMCS was called upon to mediate.
Karen Proctor-Adams, Joel Warne, Melissa Toby, Gerald Moore and Rob Weiss during DC move negotiations