Passport Services Union/Management Council Meeting

September 25, 2001

Washington, DC

 

Meeting Minutes

 

Passport Services                                                                                    NFFE Local 1998

Florence Fultz                                                                                          Bill Beardall

Susan Moorse                                                                                          Vanessa Fields

Gary Roach                                                                                              Mike Garofano

Georgia Rogers                                                                                         Colin Walle

John Hotchner                                                                                          John Paolino

 

Goals of the National Union/Management Council & Regional Councils

 

Union:  Will continue working through the partnership process to improve employees’ quality of life and protect employee rights, but would also like to do more to help Management improve the work itself – both the quantity and quality of the product we deliver.  Feels that the employees who do the job should have more of a role in overcoming obstacles and finding better ways to perform.  Worried that some local “partnership” councils have suffered as a result of the Executive Order 12871 that revoked partnership councils and would like to see joint memo clarifying and emphasizing importance of partnerships.  Requests “the list” of suggested improvements to TDIS-PD in order to evaluate the list and be involved in helping prioritize resources needed by employees to do a better job. 

 

Management:  Feels that Union & Management share the same goals for the Council, and that the revocation of the Executive Order on Partnerships is immaterial.  Agrees that improving employee morale is an important goal of the partnership.  Where grass roots support for partnerships exists at the local level, it should continue.  Commitment to 1995 Partnership Agreement and 2001 Contract Article on Union/Management Cooperation Councils has not changed.  Memo to local councils not necessary – could simply release these meeting minutes.

 

Action:  Union & Management agree to release these meeting minutes indicating that they support the continuation of partnership councils, now renamed “Union/Management Cooperation Councils”.  Though the Partnership Executive Order was revoked, Passport Services and Local 1998 did agree to include the 1995 Partnership Agreement as Article 4 of the new contract.  Management will provide Union with copy of “the list” of computer suggestions – the Union may pursue a study through local partnerships if it wishes. 

 

September 11th Ramifications

 

Management:  Cancelled most training trips and conferences after the terrorist attack.  Didn’t want to force anyone to fly who had safety concerns.  Too soon to tell impact on work.  Will know in next few weeks.  During Gulf War, receipts fell 18 – 20%.  Consumer confidence is most likely key factor determining number of passports issued in a year.  Receipts went down 27% during the week of the attack versus the same time last year, but the next week receipts were up. 

 

Union:  Vanessa Fields from New York decided to make this trip to DC – feels that the City and the Country need to not let attack stop us from doing our jobs.  Union concerned about possibility of RIF’s – many airline employees already losing jobs. 

 

Management: No worry about RIF’s.  Though flights are down, we need to do extra work to help scan Passport files more quickly into PRISM to be more readily accessible to law enforcement.  May experiment with scanning whole application at field offices.

Contract Implementation and Compliance

 

Union & Management review contract implementation and compliance list:

 

Contract to be distributed to all current and future employees, with 25 additional copies of contract sent to Union President: Mgmt ordered 3000 copies, should be printed by end of October

 

Make available 24” by 36” bulletin board in each office for Union: Mgmt is checking on this

 

Post name & phone # of personnel specialist, inform employees that they have confidential access to the specialist: Mgmt is checking on this

 

Create training survey forms: Mgmt working on this

 

Post the contract on the Passport Services (PPT) Intranet: this has been done.  (To bookmark this site, open the State Department Intranet browser, type in http://pptsntsc/intranet/ to bring up the Passport Services Intranet, click on “Favorites” at the top menu line, go down to “Add Favorites” and click on it.  To find it next time, simply go to “Favorites”.) 

 

A description and the criteria for each award on the PPT Intranet: Mgmt working on link to CA/EX/HRD Intranet homepage that has this information

 

Post the names of award recipients (individual or group) on the PPT Intranet: Mgmt can post information from recently distributed awards booklet, and add extra mile awards that were not included (does not include amounts).  List will normally be posted every June. 

 

Post Award Nomination Forms on the PPT Intranet: Mgmt will provide link

 

Post the Department’s Drug Free Workplace Plan on the Intranet: this has been done.

 

Annual Report On Awards: Union should expect to receive list of awards recipients every year, after the end of the fiscal year.

 

Additions/changes to letters of reprimand/suspension/removal: Mgmt will check with HRD to make sure they are aware of new requirements

 

Additions/changes to notice to seasonal employees placed in non-pay status: Mgmt will remind Regional Directors of new requirements

 

Notify Union President Bill Beardall in advance of any changes in policies, procedures, working conditions or grievance discussions in any field agency where the Union is unrepresented by a Union Officer: Mgmt will remind Washington Passport Agency and Special Issuance Agency Regional Directors of this requirement

 

Changes to FSI’s Passport and Nationality for Passport Examiners Correspondence Course: Mgmt has been working on this and will notify Union when there is a document ready to send

 

Mgmt also working on:

·         posting Employee Assistance Program information in each office

·         changes in performance plans, including the addition of security elements

 

Mgmt hasn’t made progress yet on:

·         encouraging CPR training

·         ensuring that each office has a First Aid Kit

·         providing training videos on the Drug Free Workplace Plan

but will be working on these.

 

Training on the Contract

 

Management: had intended to do some training on the contract for Regional Directors, Assistant Regional Directors, and Adjudication Managers at their conferences, which have now been cancelled.  May set up regional meetings for GS-12’s next year, but probably will get pushed back.  May have to videotape training sessions to share with other offices.   Would like to talk to managers first and emphasize important requirements before doing joint training for managers and union officers.  Feels that it is better to wait for managers to be briefed and contract printed and implemented for a while so that status of contract requirements can be re-assessed.  At that time, we will talk about joint training. 

 

Union:  Would have liked to have done joint training on contract already.  Considering travel situation and that union officer elections will be held in the Spring of 2002, it would now make more sense to do joint training some time shortly after June 1, 2002, when new union officers start their terms.  NFFE HQ will provide one of the trainers.  Union asks if travel budget to remain the same in FY 2002. 

 

Management:  We are scheduled for same travel budget, but it depends on MRV money.  Would like to experiment with videoconferencing on Intranet, with end point at each agency, to save costs.

 

Plan:  Union and Management agreed to discuss joint training after passport managers have received training.

 

 

Representational Training For Union Officers

 

Union: Questions linger regarding scheduling training given by Local 1998 Union President during busy season, even though Unfair Labor Practice on this issue was withdrawn earlier.  Union has placed priority on training of officers, and President has scheduled trips to various cities to accomplish that goal.  Feels that well-trained local officers are an advantage to both Parties. 

 

Management: It is perfectly legitimate for Union President to go to local offices and meet with the local representatives and employees.  Generally thinks of labor-management relations training (as provided for in Article 11) in context of training provided by Union HQ (NFFE National or the IAMAW), not Local Union President.  Thinks it better to use representational time (Article 7), rather than training time, for Union representatives when being training by Local Union President. 

 

Conclusion: Union agrees to try to schedule training of Union officers during non-busy season, when possible.  Management agrees to try to accommodate training during the busy season that is outside the Local's control (e.g., training at the IAMAW;s Placid Harbor facility in Maryland.) Union and Management agree that training of Local 1998 representatives given by Local 1998 President will generally be on representational time rather than on Article 11 training time. 

 

 

2 Hour Block of Official Time

 

Union: Intent of this new addition to the contract was for Union representatives to have a block of time every week to study the contract/laws/regulations/training materials, to do research or preparations for a grievance, and to be available for employee questions at a set time every week. Rumors have been circulating that there is a memo from Management that states that Union representatives cannot use the two-hour block for these purposes.  The Union feels that if ignorance of the contract and the regulations is not an excuse on the part of a Union rep, then there is nothing more representational than becoming familiar with the rules under which we operate.  Without this knowledge, the representative cannot responsibly perform his/her duties. Another problem is that some Union representatives have been told that they must complete a leave slip before official time will be approved, which is not a requirement found in the contract.  Additionally, some Union representatives have been told by their supervisors that they have to request the use of official time from the Adjudication Manager or even the Assistant Regional Director, and have been “grilled” on the reasons for the request. 

 

Management:  Management not aware of rumored memo.  Two hours in a block per week can be requested and approved, but needs to be justified in advance to give management sufficient details on planned activities.  Time to study the contract is okay within limits, but not on an ongoing basis. When justified, more than two hours official time per week total is allowed.  Leave slip not required in advance to obtain official time, but procedures set forth in contract (Article 7) should be adhered to.

 

Conclusion:  Official time requested, including a two-hour block, has to be used for representational purposes.  The two hour block may be regularly scheduled for the same time every week to make scheduling easier for the officer and the supervisor, but it is not a requirement.  Two hour blocks may be scheduled on a regular or semi-regular basis, so long as the request is approved in advance.  There is no requirement for a union rep to request official time in writing or fill out a leave slip, but the union representative must document the use of official time in some way that is mutually agreeable.  There is no "official time charge form" at this time.

 

Action: The Union has created and will forward to Management a proposed “official time charge form” for use by Union representatives.  If acceptable, then representatives who do not have a regular work output form may use this to account for their official time. 

 

Email For Internal Union Business

 

Union: Wants to clarify policy on use of email for internal Union business.  Believes that it is acceptable – if written and read on personal, non-work time.  The contract allows for Union membership drives twice a year, and we discussed the use of email for that purpose with Management during the contract negotiations.  Would like to email the entire bargaining unit at that time.

 

Management: Worries that internal Union business that may be written on personal time is being read during work time.  Agrees that email may be used for internal Union business if written and read on personal time.  Feels that use of email for solicitation during membership drive twice a year is fine (has to be on personal time).  Wants to continue use of email as it has been used, will address any future individual problems as they come up. 

 

Action: Union will put “header” at top of all internal Union business emails stating that the email was written on personal time and must be read on personal time.  For representational emails, Union and Management agree to apply 5-minute phone call standard from the contract (Article 8, Section 3) to emails:  “Calls (read “emails”) made or received during work hours will be on official time.  Those calls (read “emails”) over 5 minutes shall be arranged in accordance with Article 7, Section 6 and shall be recorded as such.”

 

Partnership Time for President

 

Conclusion: Duty time, not official time, should be used for local and national partnership meetings, but when the Union President helps partnership in other offices that will count against official time.  The monthly partnership phone call between Bill Beardall and Florence Fultz is part of partnership time, not official time.  Management views partnership meeting as basically a Union/Management meeting, so wouldn’t count against official time allotment.  If needed, there is nothing to preclude Union President or other officers from making a request for additional official time as allowed under the contract in order to prepare for partnership meetings. 

 

Awards

 

Union: Has heard many complaints about some offices “getting all of the QSI’s” (Quality Step Increase).  Thought awards money was allotted by office.  Concerned about fairness of distribution of QSI’s.  Received the list of awards recipients from 1999 to mid-2001 showing names and amounts, wants to know when to expect complete list of FY 2001 awards recipients and future lists.  Appreciated thorough job done in compiling the list of monetary awards for the Union, but the list did not show QSI’s.

 

Management: QSI’s are funded at 8% of the salary of the total employees in the bureau and are not allocated by office.  Regular awards are 1.5 – 2.0% of total salaries within a unit.  This is the first time the bureau hit the QSI budget ceiling since 1992.  Would very much like to see fair solution to the problem.  Suggests possibly having a deadline for submission, so that employees from different offices could be evaluated together, rather than only having submissions from a few offices.  Also important to remember that QSI is more of a benefit if given shortly after, not before, a WGI (within-grade increase). 

 

Action: Union and Management to discuss further.  Management to encourage offices to submit their QSI nominations earlier. 

 

Union Dues

 

Union: Recent Unfair Labor Practice charge over delay in Union dues was withdrawn after Management agreed to send Local Secretary-Treasurer a bi-weekly listing of dues paying members so that errors could be detected earlier in the future.  Not necessary to get quarterly listing of members, as new contract requires, as we are getting it on a bi-weekly basis.  Interested in having split in dues deductions – Local’s portion of the dues transmitted electronically directly to the Local’s account, and NFFE HQ’s portion sent to NFFE (by paper check, for now).  Would like to issue supplement to contract to cover both split dues and bi-weekly list.

 

Management: Will inform CA/EX/HRD that it is not necessary to compile and transmit quarterly listing of dues paying members. 

 

Action: Management will check with FMP on possibility of splitting the dues and if possible to still send paper check to NFFE HQ.  Local will work with NFFE HQ to further explore possible ways to implement this improvement. 

 

Impact of Photodigitization and New Laws

 

Union:  Passport specialists in many offices concerned that new Photodigitization system, Namecheck function transfer, Namecheck problems, the new Child Citizenship Act, the new Two-Parent Signature requirement, and other changes in work processes may have negatively impacted the quantity and quality of work being produced.  Cites anecdotal evidence of increased number of fraudulent passports being issued in error.  Would like the issue to be seriously studied together by the Union and Management and then discuss any necessary changes. 

 

Management: Considering setting a national standard for production using a range of numbers.  Planned on discussing impact of these changes at the Regional Director and Adjudication Manager conferences, which were cancelled.  Also working on other performance elements and evaluation issues, some of which are in response to issues brought up during contract negotiations. 

 

Action: Management to apprise Union of the results of Management studies and analysis of number standards.  Any changes to performance standards (including quotas) or evaluation tools will be shared with Union prior to implementation.  Union may initiate own survey of these issues.  Union and Management to continue discussion of this issue and will address specifics later. 

 

Security Awareness Element

 

Union: Appreciated that Management addressed many concerns expressed by Union over this issue earlier in the year.  Union thinks employees should not be receive disciplinary action and unacceptable performance action for same event(s).  Union proposes adding more details to list, add warning only given for first infraction, add grievance can be filed, and add employee will be notified ASAP after even considered to be an infraction occurs. 

 

Management: Is amenable to changing memo to reflect Union’s concerns.  Wants to see response in writing. 

 

Action: Management to check law and regulations on whether an employee can have disciplinary action and unacceptable performance action for same event.  Union to draft response to Management’s draft memo on implementing elements and standards and forward to Management by October 5th.  Passport Services employees will NOT be rated on this element for the year 2001.  The new element will go into effect on January 1, 2002.  

 

Union/Management Cooperation Award

 

Definition: “This is an honorary award given annually by the National Union/Management Council to one or more bargaining unit employee(s), Manager(s), or Union Representative(s) who have demonstrated outstanding personal commitment to the promotion of partnership and cooperation between labor and management.” (Article 19, Section 6a)

 

Action:  Bill Beardall and Florence Fultz will each send a notice to all Union representatives and Regional Directors, respectively, soliciting nominations for this award. 

 

Identification Cards and ID Card Holders

 

Union: had understood from Assistant Secretary Mary Ryan that Diplomatic Security was going to eliminate the use of Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth on all Department of State ID’s, because if the ID was lost or stolen it would facilitate identity theft.  What is the possibility of getting a “Passport Services” ID card holder (similar to Consular Affairs or State Department ID holders that hang from the neck)? 

 

Action: Management will check status of this change in DS policy and verify that it is being implemented.  Will check on desirability and cost of obtaining Passport Services ID card holder. 

 

Management subsequently found out that DS is piloting new ID cards that will be given to employees in the field after being implemented in DC – date of implementation still unknown.

 

 

Child Care Subsidy

 

Union: The Union representing IRS employees negotiated a childcare subsidy for employees.  Would like the same for Passport Services employees.  Believes that if we can get it here it should take into account locality pay.  Would like to be “kept in the loop” on this issue. 

 

Management: The Department is working on this and has asked Congress for funds in the Fiscal Year 2003 budget.  Congress has passed a law that allows federal agencies, at their discretion, to subsidize childcare at certified facilities for lower income employees. 

 

Action: Management to provide feedback and updates on development of program. 

 

Exercise Facility Subsidy

 

Union: Some other federal agencies offer subsidies for exercise facilities for their employees.  Would like to have that benefit available for our employees as well. 

 

Management: Two of the PPT agencies do have the subsidy.  If it is expanded to more agencies, then the amount of the subsidy for each participant may have to be reduced. 

 

Action: Management will check with CA/EX on this – may take some time. 

 

Handbook/fact sheets on Personnel Matters

 

Union: There is not enough information in the field available to supervisors and Union representatives to deal with disability, retirement, and worker’s compensation issues.  Lack of knowledge on worker’s comp requirements, for example, can have negative consequences for an employee.  Interested in creation of handbook to help with these matters. 

 

Management: Suggests using Bureau of Human Resources Intranet page as resource – it has a great deal of information on these issues.  With changes constantly being made in the rules and regulations affecting these issues, feels that better to use Intranet site as resource as it is updated.  Feels that printed handbook would almost be outdated by the time it is printed. 

 

Action: Union will review the HR Intranet page and contact HR if needed information is lacking. 

 

Leadership Development Training

 

Action: Management will draft Union’s help in developing guidelines for selecting individuals for two leadership development training programs.