NTEU Monday Minute for the Week of September 21, 2015: What You Should Know If We Shutdown
|These are tough times to be a federal employee. We face a harsh political climate which now includes the possibility of a federal government shutdown. Once again, federal employees are being offered up like the proverbial “sacrificial lamb,” in an ongoing power struggle.
Between the possibility of a federal government shutdown and some representatives’ ideas about using the Thrift Savings Plan G fund to fund transportation, you really feel compelled sometimes to ask – does Congress even know what I do as a federal employee working for the NRC? Do our representatives understand the NRC’s mission? What about the people and the environment that we work to protect? Are we nothing more than a budget line or worse, a sound bite?
NTEU would like to remind all bargaining unit members that in the event of a shutdown, you can go to www.NTEU.org to get information that you may find helpful through such an ordeal. If you are a union member, please make sure to provide your personal email address at the same time so that National and Chapter 208 can reach out to you to provide up to the minute information.
We cannot stress the importance of having your personal email enough. At the present time, NTEU Chapter 208 has only about 25% of our members’ emails. Because you cannot use your work email address during a shutdown, having your personal email is a valuable communication tool. In the coming weeks, however, please send any questions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will work to get your questions answered.
In anticipation of a shutdown, gather the information and resources you will need to get through it. The EDO Update provides a couple useful sites that you can access to ask questions and to get information: 1) a FAQ sheet that has been posted to the EDO Share Point site; and 2) a mailbox (NRC Shutdown Resource) to which you can send email questions.
Additionally, on September 18th, Eric Yoder of The Washington Post, wrote an article in The Federal Eye entitled: “A Government Shutdown: What Federal Employees Need to Know about Their Pay and Benefits” which provides a good deal of information. This includes differentiating between excepted and non-excepted employees; pointing out that furloughed employees cannot substitute annual leave or other forms of paid time off for that unpaid time; that previously scheduled leave should be canceled; and finally, that you can take other jobs but only those allowable under government ethics rules restricting outside income.
As mentioned at several All-Hands Meetings last week, NTEU National is endorsing legislation that would make sure federal employees get paid if the government shuts down. The Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2015 (S. 2035), introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and a group of other senators, would also allow those who are required to work during a shutdown—so-called excepted employees—to take leave while the government remains closed. Also under the bill, furloughed and excepted employees will be paid as soon as possible after the government reopens, regardless of their scheduled pay dates—a proposal pushed by NTEU.
In Case You Missed It: The Commission will hold the Annual Meeting with all employees on Monday, September 28, 2015. Your attendance and active participation in this meeting are important. This is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the agency’s accomplishments this past year, discuss the challenges ahead, and answer questions. The meeting will be held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at 5701 Marinelli Road, and will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Employees at the regional offices and the Technical Training Center will be able to view the meeting by video broadcast. Employees at resident inspector offices will be able to listen to the meeting by audio broadcast. If you have questions concerning this meeting, please e-mail the Administrative Services Center or call 301-415-2251 or 301-415-4272. NTEU Chapter 208 will provide comments at the end of the meeting. We hope you will attend.
Someone Said: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”– Nelson Mandela, former South African president