NTEU 2020 Legislative Conference summary

NTEU 2020 Legislative Conference

About 400 federal employees from around the country gathered on Capitol Hill the week of March 4-6 where we urged lawmakers to protect our workplaces, preserve our benefits, safeguard our agency missions and provide adequate agency funding. NTEU members from CBP, IRS, EPA, Energy and other agencies represented by NTEU attended

The agenda this year includes encouraging members of Congress

> to increase federal pay,  
> protect employee benefits  
> provide agencies with adequate funding and
> ensure fairness in the government workplace
> and a special fifth item was added on-the-fly: receiving adequate guidance on Corona Virus issues

Rally:

On Thursday we had an hour long rally outside the Capitol to show our strength. Congress members who spoke:

·       Minnesota: Angie Craig 
 
Massachusetts: Lori Trahan
 California: TJ Cox
 Hawaii: Senator Hirono
 Virginia: Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly

 

Delegation Meetings:

Members of NTEU met with their congressional representatives. All representatives we met with were extremely supportive of our issues. (It doesn’t hurt that Maryland and Virginia have a ton of federal employees in their state/districts.) So, one of the goals was simply to thank them for supporting us throughout the year. Basically we were preaching to the choir on our issues.  

Both Rudy and I live in Maryland so we visited the offices of:

·       Steny Hoyer’s Office: spoke with staff there. He knows our issues much better than we do. He recited bill names, sponsers, percentages, the history, etc.

·       David Trone’s Office: spoke with staff in the office for about 45 minutes.

·       Jaimie Raskin: spoke with Congressman Raskin for about 15 minutes.

·       Anthony Brown’s Office: spoke with staff in the office for about 30 minutes

·       Senator Van Hollen: spoke with the Senator for about 30 minutes

·       Senator Cardin’s Office: spoke with staff there for about 25 minutes.

Other NTEU members met with their representatives including from Virginia.

 

Corona Virus

It was interesting being on the hill during the events surrounding the Corona Virus.

We asked for much clearer guidance on Corona Virus and we tied the response to the four issues: Currently the administration is discouraging telework, but that seems like an obvious tool to use to slow the Corona Virus. Because our agency is not adequately funded, our IT infrastructure will have a hard time fully implementing telework.  If we are required to telework and our IT infrastructure proves inadequate will there be alternatives? If federal employees are quarantined - is that sick time, annual leave, will we be fired for not showing up to work? What if an employee is in another country and held there. I think we stumped Senator Van Hollen with questions on potential quarantines when he paused and said, . . . good question, maybe it’s in the 8 billion dollar bill we just passed?

During the week:

-          A letter signed by 8 senators was sent to OPM basically saying provide adequate guidance that protects federal workers. 
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