ENOUGH SAID!

Newsletter of

AFGE LOCAL 2505

Representing SSA Field Office Employees in Oklahoma

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December, 2007 – Volume II, No. 4

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 Happy Holidays

 

Season’s Greetings to all Active and Retired Members of AFGE Local 2505!

The holidays can be a very stressful time!

This is an actual email from an SSA supervisor in our region to their employees:

Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 10:40 AM

To:

Subject: Maps , o/ps, rz/li's, SSI offsets if applicable(5w, 9w, a9's, 2l's)F01, F02, Percs over 30 days old

Good morning All,

As you know almost everything is a priority at the present time.

The RO is monitoring most of our PE actions lists.

I am sure the AD's office will be calling concerning the status of our maps cases that are still pending on Thursday and Friday.

We also need to work on our overpayments we need to meet the goal on those as well.

I am sure you read the memo about the RZ's and LI's we are behind on those(Dallas Region) compared to other regions.

Please continue to make appointments and clear as many as you can this helps to determine staffing according to the memo.

If you help work the offsets please check your section of the alpha please clear the offset. We will miss our goal if we don't clear these offsets. … I really thank you for your hard [work].

If you have any questions or concerns please talk to me. …

Please think about our work and if you have any ideas on how we can get it out in a better manner please let's talk about it. I value each of your opinions.

IC CRs please continue to send your cases to the DDS as quickly as possible so we can stay on top of our F01 time and please clear your claims as quickly as possible once a decision from the DDS has been made.

Since we are now doing full developments maybe we will meet our F02 time. Also please continue to turn in your reports [of] your over 30 day old reports and the RZ and LI reports to me. Our cases are looking a lot better. I appreciate each of you if I can do anything to help please let me know.

So, just in case you didn’t realize it: (1) there is too much work (2) there aren’t enough of us to do it (3) EVERYTHING is a priority and (4) the AD’s office is pestering your manager and supervisor for status on everything (even though the AD’s office could actually pull up the lists themselves and see what has been cleared and what is still pending).

Do NOT lose sight of the real priority for this holiday season: enjoy yourself and your family and especially your leave! Your kids / grandkids are going to grow up so much faster than you realize. By next Christmas, the joy and magic of the holidays may be replaced by worldliness that there is no Santa Claus and it is Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa and Grammie who are buying the presents. It is still fun; but, it is not the same as the first couple of Christmases where the little ones are just as happy with the box as they are with the gift!

Since everything is a priority, NOTHING is a priority. Enjoy the holidays. When the holiday season is over, it’s over. The lists and cases aren’t going to be worked by any elves or Santa; they’ll be waiting for you when you get back. Christmas will not be followed by another Christmas for another year. Your work and listings will be followed by another within hours.

Keep that in mind when you start stressin’ about what isn’t going to get done while you are on leave. Don’t bring the work home with you emotionally and ruin your holiday season and your family’s!

If you know any retirees, ask them for some advice and words of wisdom! They will all tell you THERE IS LIFE AFTER SSA but NOT if you let your SSA work ruin your attitude or your physical and mental health!!

HAVE A JOYOUS and SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON! See you next year!!

 

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 Access: Register at the www.afge.org

Access to www.afge.org

Not Registered on www.afge.org? Forgot your username and / or password?

After you have completely logged out of the AFGE website, log back on and create another username and password.

Whether you are re-registering or doing your initial registration, you will need your membership number. If you don’t have it / have misplaced your AFGE Membership Card, you’ll have to contact President Ralph de Juliis or Secretary-Treasurer Magda Mashburn. Either of them can access our membership data base and get your AFGE Membership Number.

Is Management going through your desk?

Per Article 3, Employee Rights, Sec. 2C / Personal Rights of the National Agreement between AFGE and SSA: "When new furniture is installed the furniture will contain lockable, secure space for the storage of personal belongings".

Management and your co-workers have legitimate needs to find folders on your desk or to borrow from your stash / hoard of candy, note pads, tissues, tape, stapler remover, sticky note pads, pens, etc. when you aren’t there.

Make sure your space (drawer) is clearly labeled "personal" so your personal items remain personal!

TB Interviews

Howard Egerman, Council 220 Health and Safety Rep and Chair of the Field Office Health and Safety Committee, wants to remind everyone:

"Our policy refers to 29 CFR l960.46A which gives employees the right to refuse actions if they have a reasonable belief that such actions such as interviewing someone with TB can result in an adverse situation and if there is not time to seek appropriate redress.

In addition, it should be stated that the people who helped get this policy out (and I am one of them) had concern as did management with everyone involved: the SRs who would be in the same breathing space as well as other members of the public who may have respiratory or immune suppressive illnesses. They did not quote the whole interviewing policy. But in our view, what also is stated that if someone did not wish to interview a person with alleged TB and they wanted a face to face interview that management would seek volunteers and in all frankness if there were none, they would do the interview themselves."

In one of our office, several years ago, multiple members of the office interviewed a beneficiary with active TB, who neglected to tell the staff. They were contacted by a DHS caseworker later about it. The staff was sent to the local health dept for testing. One of the T16 CRs came back with a "positive" test result. She ended up having to take meds for a full year because of "suspicious spots" on her lungs. The Number Holder ended up being picked up by the police (for another matter) and was court-ordered to have meds administered to him by a sheriff's deputy for the TB on a regular basis.

Any time an employee tests positive the Union urges them to file a CA-2! Though the employee may never get TB, filing the CA-2 protects you! If you are positive and exposed you should get a chest x-ray!

It’s a New Year: Admin Time for Mammograms, Dental Screening and Cholesterol Screening

Article 9, Section 6 A, requires "The Administration will attempt to locate low cost/no cost local medical providers for services such as cholesterol, blood pressure and dental screenings, mammograms and will make such information available to employees.

A reasonable amount of administrative leave will be granted to employees who avail themselves of these services. Emphasis added

If you office has not attempted to locate or has been unable to locate such low cost / no cost medical providers for such services, you can use your own health care professionals. Once you have made your appointment, submit your SF-71 requesting enough time for travel and as well as the visit!

Litigation Report

Arbitrator Gail Smith ruled that SSA violated the AFGE-SSA National Agreement by having more than one member of management present when conducting the mid-year PACS discussion with each employee. Boston Region Local President, Rich Couture, was assisted in this arbitration by our own, Executive Vice President Ralph de Juliis. If Local management in your office had two supervisors present during your recent, individual PACS discussion, please let one of the officers know!

The Local is busier than ever.

The Local has invoked Arbitration on SSA’s refusal to give Enid SRs awards.

The Local is representing 3 employees in appraisal grievances. Information requests are pending on all.

The Local is representing 3 employees in awards grievances. Information requests are pending.

The arbitration on a TE selection in Chickasha has been postponed because the arbitrator had to withdraw because of illness. A new arbitrator has been assigned.

The Local has demanded bargaining over the creation of a Woodward Contact Station.

SSA has refused to set an arbitration date to resolve a dues withholding error in Bartlesville.

The Local is representing an employee in a non-selection grievance.

The Local has demanded bargaining over workflow and changes in work assignments in Ada, but, SSA has refused to negotiate. The Union would like to pursue the matter and is looking for employee witnesses to testify about the significant and adverse impact of the management changes.

The Union invoked arbitration on three other grievances filed over working conditions and contract violations in Ada. The contractual violations included refusing to meet with two Union Representatives for a Section 10 Grievance presentation, refusing to set a date for a grievance presentation and refusing to set a time for the grievance presentation during core hours. Though SSA denied all the grievances, they have started setting dates for grievance presentations in Ada. SSA also scheduled the grievance presentations during core hours; and, SSA is no longer objecting when two Union officials are present for a Section 10 Union-Management Grievance Presentation.

The Local filed a grievance when an employee switched from one title to another and received an interim numerical rating in each element and issued the employee a trainee performance plan. Management said that was allowed under the contract. A couple of months later, management said they were wrong and would withdraw the informational numerical appraisal and the trainee performance plan. The Union replied that would not make the employee whole because the employee was not considered for an award because of her erroneous trainee status.

The Local filed a grievance over SSA’s failure to provide narrative justifications for employee awards. An information request was made. After several months and three follow-ups (to which SSA replied it was working on the response), SSA simply deleted the fourth follow up without reading it. (The Read Receipt feature of Outlook is really a great feature). The Union printed the "deleted without being read" receipt and filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against SSA.

 

Legislative Update

The following letter was sent to OMB regarding the SSA budget:

November 20, 2007

The Honorable Jim Nussle

Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Nussle,

We are writing to ask that you include adequate funding for the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the President's Fiscal Year 2009 budget to address an increasing number of critical service delivery issues. Our organizations represent a significant number of the stakeholders of SSA. In order for SSA to meet its myriad of responsibilities, we estimate that the agency needs a minimum of $11.0 billion for its Fiscal Year 2009 administrative funding. SSA expenditures are rising very rapidly and budgets in recent years have not kept up with the increasing demands for resources. The field offices, teleservice centers, hearings offices, Disability Determination Services (DDSs) and other parts of the agency are in critical need of additional staffing. SSA has lost 4,000 positions in just the past two years. Even if SSA were to receive the funding level of $9.872 billion that was recommended in the FY 2008 Labor-HHS Appropriations Conference Agreement, SSA would only be able to maintain its current level of staffing in most of its components – including the DDSs and the field offices. SSA needs to replenish these lost positions and regain a level of staffing that can meet the demands placed on the agency. Adequate funding is absolutely critical for SSA. For the past ten years (FY 1998 through FY 2007), Congress has appropriated approximately $1.3 billion less for SSA's administrative funding needs than requested by the President. In Fiscal Year 2008, the President's budget for SSA was $843 million less than the Commissioner's Budget Request for the agency. Going back to the beginning of FY 2000, the number of pending Social Security hearings has risen from 311,000 to a record high of 758,000. In addition, approximately 84,000 of these hearings are for veterans. The average processing time from filing for a hearing to the time a hearing is finally processed has increased from about 275 days at the beginning of this decade to 512 days in FY 2007.

As a result, many people are losing their homes, living in homeless shelters, going without medical help, losing custody of their children, and even dying without ever receiving a decision. SSA actuaries estimate that SSA will receive approximately 35,000 more initial disability claims in FY 2008 than was projected in the President's FY 2008 budget due to the fact that baby boomers are expected to file more disability claims as they approach retirement age. The President's budget already assumed SSA would not process as many claims as it received, so this increase in receipts merely exacerbates that problem and will increase the backlog. A total of 83,000 claims would be added to the already substantial backlog. This would result in the highest ever initial disability claim pending level – 660,000 – causing processing times for initial disability claims to also increase. Not only has there been a marked degradation in the level of service that SSA provides related to the disability process but visitors to local SSA field offices for other services are also being negatively impacted by the agency's insufficient resources. Understaffed field offices are experiencing an ever-increasing number of visitors per week. Currently, SSA employees interview an average of 850,000 customers nationwide per week. In many field offices, these visitors experience waiting times that are in excess of 2 hours. SSA field offices receive over 60 million business-related phone calls from the public per year. A recent report states that 51% of these callers receive a busy signal. In addition, SSA continues to be given responsibility for new workloads such as processing Medicare Part D subsidy determinations, taking and processing Medicare Part B premium determination appeals and processing increasingly complex security checks and stewardship reviews for Social Security Number issuance, SSI redeterminations and medical Continuing Disability Reviews. SSA is also facing critical needs to reinvigorate the Ticket to Work Program and other work incentives which, if successful, will reduce the number of beneficiaries dependent on benefits. These programs are designed to actually save money for the trust fund. Yet without adequate administrative funds SSA cannot possibly do all this work. For SSA to process traditional levels of program integrity work (i.e., SSI redeterminations and medical Continuing Disability Reviews), Congress would have to appropriate more than the $11.0 billion recommended by the undersigned. And, with the recent filing for Social Security benefits by the first baby boomer, SSA will be facing its most daunting challenge ever – the number of workers receiving Social Security retirement benefits will increase by 13 million over the next 10 years. These citizens will be contacting SSA at a time when the agency is proposing to close an increasing number of its field offices in response to inadequate funding to keep the offices adequately staffed and the doors open. Many SSA offices could close and others may reduce office hours without increased funding. With the massive number of baby boomers anticipated to need assistance and services from SSA in the years to come, it is imperative that the agency receives the resources it needs to sufficiently serve the growing numbers of people needing service from the agency. The effects of the backlog extend throughout SSA. As SSA tries to address the crisis, the agency is forced to divert its limited resources away from its day-to-day operations in field offices and payment processing centers in order to try to manage the disability backlog. SSA is facing these many workload challenges as its allocated staffing has dropped to the lowest level since pre SSI 1972. Since 1987 staffing has dropped by approximately 28,000. The state DDSs have lost over 900 employees in the last two years. If additional resources are not provided for the agency, staffing levels will continue to decline and service levels will continue to deteriorate. We urge you to include in the President's FY 2009 budget a minimum of $11.0 billion in funding to provide SSA with the resources necessary to reduce the backlog and protect many Americans from severe and unnecessary hardship. We are confident that this increased investment in SSA will benefit our entire nation. On behalf of our many members throughout the United States we appreciate your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

AARP, AFL-CIO Alliance for Retired Americans, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, American Federation of Government Employees. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers Program on Retirement and Retirees American Network of Community Options and Resources, APSE: The Network on Employment,

Association of Administrative Law Judges, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, American Postal Workers Union Retirees, B'nai B'rith International, Easter Seals, Epilepsy Foundation, Federal Managers Association, Goodwill Industries, International Gray Panthers, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Disability Examiners, National Association of Disability Representatives, National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, National Association of Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Directors, Inc.,

National Association of Social Workers, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Council of Disability Determination Directors, National Council of Social Security Management Associations, National Disability Rights Network, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Employment Network Association, National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, National Respite Coalition, National Senior Citizens Law Center, National Treasury Employees Union, OWL, The Voice of Midlife and Older Women, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Social Security Disability Coalition, The Arc of the United States, United Cerebral Palsy, United Spinal Association, Voice of the Retarded

Also, near and dear to our hearts and pocket books, is the latest on our 2008 pay raise:

The President has proposed a 3% raise for Federal Civilian employees. It appears that Congress will provide most federal employees with a 3.5 percent raise. Of course, the Union is lobbying for Congress to override the president's decision, which is likely.

A Bilingual Pay Bill! The Bill is HR 3727 - One America; Many voices. It was introduced October 3 by Rep. Mike Honda and co sponsored by Ed Pastor (AZ) and Luis Fortuno (PR). Please note that this is not just for those who speak Spanish. American Sign Language would also qualify. This bill provides a 5% pay raise for bilingual employees certified as proficient who use their other language 25% of their time! Please call all your Senators and Congresspersons and ask them to co-sponsor this legislation!

The federal government’s authority to spend money, despite the fact that none of the dozen annual appropriations bills have been enacted, comes from a Continuing Resolution, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in late September. No one is seeking a government shutdown.

For Retirees

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chair of the Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy panel of the Senate Finance Committee held a press conference on November 6th to set the scene for a subcommittee hearing later the same day on the impact of the Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined her colleague at the press conference, along with NARFE National President Margaret L. Baptiste, a top official of the National Education Association (NEA), and retired Massachusetts school teacher Peggy Kane.

President Baptiste’s comments and NARFE research informed Sen. Kerry whose opening statement noted the impact the GPO (lost spousal benefit) has on Mrs. Jean Rapose, a member of NARFE’s Lower Cape Cod Chapter. Sen. Collins, the first witness, testified in support of S. 206, legislation to repeal the GPO and WEP, that she is cosponsoring with California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D). NEA member Kane reiterated her personal situation, along with a CALPERS board member, an expert from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and a senior fellow from the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank. Because of NARFE advocacy on behalf of federal and postal retirees who reside in all 50 states, the inequity of the GPO and the WEP, which otherwise might appear to be affecting only state and local government retirees in 15 states, is on the public record as a national issue.

Office Temperatures

There is no longer a set temperature in the contract. During the contract bargaining, management informed the Union that SSA abide by the ASHRAE standards.

In the ASHRAE standard for "Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy", Table 3 and Section 5.1.5.1ff, it is stated that the optimum indoor temperature in summer is 75 degrees and the optimum temperature range is 73-79 degrees. The minimal standard is 79-84 degrees.

 

Meeting Notice

AFGE Local 2505

Saturday,

January 12, 2008

Location: (Magda Mashburn’s home)

3837 Highpoint Court, Norman, OK

Time: 11:00 A.M.

Agenda

Call to Order

Secretary’s Report

Treasurer’s Report

Adjustments to 2007 Budget

2008 Budget

Legislative Report

Litigation Report

Enid SR Awards-Arbitration Authorization

New Business

Installation of Officers

Nomination and Election: Local 2505

Executive Vice President

Local 2505 Web Site

2008 AFGE Legislative Conference

Unfinished Business

Adjournment

Installation of Local 2505 Officers

In accordance with Local 2505’s Constitution and By-Laws, the new Local Officers will take office at the January, 12 2008 Meeting.

The Officers were elected by acclamation at the Local’s November 3, 2007 Meeting.

Your New Local Officers are:

 

President: Ralph de Juliis

Executive Vice President: Vacant

Secretary-Treasurer: Magda Mashburn

First Vice President: Mitzi Brooks

Second Vice President: Carol Lewis

Join us in wishing our new officers good luck and success in their efforts on behalf of our members!

KUDOOS to

The Enid Staff!!

The Enid staff voted to forego their usual, traditional "large Holiday Dinner and instead use that money to purchase shoes for 2 Head Start classes in Enid, a total of 34 children!

Area Director Dianne Vaughn wrote the staff: "This was such a wonderfully kind act on the part of the Enid employees! From the pictures, one can easily see how appreciative the children were to receive the early Christmas presents. Please relay my thanks to the staff for opening their hearts and their wallets for such a great cause. You guys are simply the best!"

Congratulations to the Enid staff for their generosity and Holiday spirit!

AFGE Local 2505 General Officers Contact Information

Ralph de Juliis - President

ralph.dejuliis@ssa.gov or ralph.de.juliis@sbcglobal.net

Work: 918-641-2409 ext. 2923

Cell: 918-781-3096 or Home: 918-749-2412

Magda Mashburn – Secretary - Treasurer

magda.mashburn@ssa.gov

Work: 405-605-3001 ext 3981

Mitzi Brooks – 1st Vice President

mitzi.brooks@ssa.gov

Work: 580-237-1664 ext. 202

Carol A. Lewis - 2nd Vice President

carol.a.lewis@ssa.gov

Work: 918-423-1631 ext. 117

 

 

Season’s Greetings!

Sending all of our active and retired members

and their loved ones best wishes for this holiday seasons! Hoping that your New Year is healthy, happy and prosperous!

AFGE Local 2505 Executive Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFGE Local 2505 Newsletter: December ‘07

Ms Magda Mashburn, Secretary-Treasurer

3837 Highpoint Court

Norman, Oklahoma 73072-5023