Recent shortages in staffing and budget have not
resulted in a shortage of victories for AFGE Local 2505. Over the past year, our
Local President has been working harder than ever to uphold your rights as
employees. Hundreds of thousands of dollars awarded in arbitration damages,
dozens of settlements, numerous upsetting exposures, and several unprecedented,
successful unfair labor practice complaints later, an uncomfortable truth has
emerged for SSA. Employee wins make them look bad and embarrassing losses must
be eliminated. However, SSA has not chosen a solution that will reduce
violations of employee rights. Rather eliminating bad management behavior, they
have determined that the solution is eliminating Ralph de Juliis.
Ralph has always supported our membership, and we will continue to support Ralph. Through our solidarity and support, we ensure that management does not silence advocates for us who will stand up to the favoritism, inequity, discrimination, and injustice in our workplaces!
Social Security Administration Admonished by Arbitrator for Race Discrimination Against Little Rock Employee and Ordered to Pay Unprecedented Damages in Landmark Decision
Actions taken against
Magnolia Littles regarded as gross and
repugnant by Arbitrator
In the first
arbitration since Arkansas and Oklahoma merged,
Arbitrator Ed W Bankston found that SSA
management in Little Rock did not have just
cause to suspend employee Magnolia Littles for
That was a significant win in an of itself. It turned out to be an arbitration first in SSA because Arbitrator Bankston found SSA had discriminated against Ms Littles "in violation of Article 18 and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991" and awarded Magnolia Littles compensatory damages to the tune of $50,000 AND punitive damages to the tune of of additional $50,000.
Arbitrator Bankston wrote: "The grievant is awarded punitive damages in the amount of $50,000 due to the Agency's altogether gross and repugnant rendition of the matter at hand, and in an effort to deter such reckless, blameworthy misbehavior in the future."
The case began in August, 2008 when Magnolia Littles asked for Union Representation. The Arkansas Local, Local 3291, called on Local 2505 President Ralph de Juliis. After invoking arbitration, Ms Littles' arbitration was referred to the AFGE Council 220 Legal Representation Fund Attorney, Patricia McGowan.
Attorney McGowan said, "The strong language used by the arbitrator admonishing the agency illustrates the unabashed ferocity in which employees are treated under the current SSA leadership. This is a first for an SSA local in arbitration. The unprecedented sums of damages awarded to our member should serve as a wake-up call. We won’t let these blatant injustices to our members stand.”
Local President Ralph de Juliis sent an email to all the employees in SSA Field Offices in Arkansas and Oklahoma with a copy of the Arbitrator's Award. He said that the arbitration award was a vindication of Ms Littles and a testament to the bravery of her co-workers, Lisa Morris, Cheryl Spurr and Amanda Miller, whose testimony and evidence was crucial and quoted at length by Arbitrator Bankston.
Local 2505 can't promise it will always win; but, it can promise it will always be there to stand between management injustice and our members!
There is a saying in the Union: "When you pick a fight with one of us, you pick a fight with all of us!"
SSA has proposed to suspend one of your co-workers
for 2 days for doing their job. SSA said they wanted the
oral presentation to be Friday afternoon at 1 pm. SSA
didn't tell us that we had 1/2 hour because the ARC-MOS
had to be at the Regional Commissioner's New Years
Celebration scheduled to start at 1:30!!
SSA was adamant that we could NOT make a face-to-face, in person presentation. We had to do it by phone. Now I understand why.
When you read the email exchange, you can see for yourself that the ARC-MOS self-righteously proclaims, " I am confident that I will be able to make the best decision possible..."
Please feel free to let Joy.Chang@ssa.gov know how you feel.
If it were YOU, would you be grateful and appreciative for Ms Chang to give you 1/2 an hour of her most valuable phone time before her boss' New Years Celebration? Would you be confident that you were getting the best decision possible or would you be confident that your suspension was going to be rubber stamped and you were being railroaded?!
As you can see from the email exchange, SSA let the employees it is NOT disciplining make their case face-to-face. The one they have decided to suspend...I'm sorry, I mean PROPOSED (wink, wink) to suspend, can't make their case face-to-face to their executioner... I mean the deciding official.
SSA's top regional people are cloistered away in their Ivory Tower. They can deal with production numbers and lists of pending that must be cleared by Friday, but when it comes to looking real employees in the eye, when it comes to seeing a real employee who is going to suffer the fallout from their decisions, they only pay lip service to how "very seriously" they take their responsibilities. I don't doubt for a moment that they are confident and more comfortable filleting an employee over the phone than they are face-to-face, in person.
Funny, I thought SSA was a face-to-face agency where if some one wants a sit down meeting, be it a claim or personal conference, we will accommodate them. Too bad the top SSA leaders can't treat us the same way they require us to treat the public.
Just another example of their failure to lead; just another example of their hypocrisy: do as I say, not as I do. If SSA management isn't willing to look into the faces of the employees they are victimizing with their decision, they should find another line of work!
Please read the entire exchange. SSA thinks that employees will buy any bull they dish out to us. Their words to us reek of insincerity and contempt.for us! This is what AFGE fights every day. In the words of AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer, J. David Cox, "If you got a boss, you NEED a UNION!"
Well, it is finally official: AFGE National Office, effective January 1, merged SSA Field Office Employees in Arkansas and Oklahoma into one AFGE local, Local 2505!
Our new combined local has 34 offices in Areas I and VII. Our bargaining unit has about 525 members. About 55% of the bargaining unit are members. We have two offices with 100% Union membership. One office (resident station) with no members, which we hope to change! The size of our bargaining unit keeps getting smaller as SSA harasses senior employees to make them retire and promotes their pets into GS-12, busy-work management positions.
We look forward to visiting every office! We want to meet each of you and to let you size us up!
The vote to merge was 10 to 1 in favor of merging! I will NOT let you down! Contacting me and your other Local Union Officers will NOT be like your PACS self-assesment: something you do get to do once a year which is drop filed and not read! I will work my tail off to prove over and over again that your confidence was well-paced! I and the other officers will do everything we can to earn your trust and respect! As this is posted to the website, I will have visited Jonesboro, and, this coming week, Forrest City, Fayetteville and El Dorado. We have scheduled a general membership meeting of our two-state local in Little Rock the last Saturday in February with training for the Local Representatives, the day before. I want to hear from you! Please don't wait until we visit your office to let us know what your questions and concerns are and what problems you have!
Ralph de Juliis, President
AFGE Local 2505
|Merge Ahead...or Not?|
Proposed Dues Increase
Our sister Local in
Arkansas, AFGE Local 3291 is discussing the possibility
of merging with us. (Read
message from President, Anna Hawkins, here) I want
to share my ENTHUSIASM for a merger of our Locals! I
think it would be a GREAT idea and would be GREAT for
both of our Locals!! (Read my reply to Anna here)
Poteau 8 Update!
The request for EEO Counseling
from the Poteau 8 was made on June 3, 2008. Despite
SSA's purported commitment to speedy denial of EEO
complaints, I mean, speedy resolution: "The EEO
counselor will attempt to resolve the matter informally
within 30 calendar days. Prior to the end of the 30-day
period, the employee may agree in writing with SSA to
postpone the final interview and extend the counseling
period for an additional period of not more than 60
We have almost reached the 120 day mark with no final
counseling reports issued.
SSA Regional Commissioner Ramona Schuenemeyer of the Dallas Region may not know that deleting emails without reading them is not only bad email etiquette, it can constitute an Unfair Labor Practice. Local 2505 has filed two ULPs with the FLRA over Ramona's deleting information and bargaining requests sent by 2505 President, Ralph de Juliis, without opening them.
Ramona also deleted her copy of the Poteau EEO complaint without reading it, leading the Union to believe that the problem may be less of an email etiquette issue and more of an issue with AFGE and the employees we represent.
Those of us familiar with Ramona may know that she often introduces herself with "My name is Ramona and I'm a public servant."
AFGE members and officers are public servants as well. Unlike Ramona, we are required to go above and beyond talking the talk, and are not rated successful unless we also walk the walk.
We receive and are expected to actually read numerous emails from Ramona, in addition to watching mandatory tapings of her messages. We should be able to reasonably expect a fraction of the same courtesy. Ramona's apparent preference for one way communication with her fellow public servants is not the approach we should expect from any public official in a leadership position.
Inauguration of New Local 2505 Officer
(President Ralph de Juliis swears in 2nd VP, Mary Roberts. Click image to enlarge.)
AFGE Local 2505's newest officer was sworn in during the
April 2008 meeting. Mary Roberts from the Moore,
OK SSA District office was elected to fill the position
of 2nd Vice President of AFGE Local 2505. The
position was vacated by Carol A Lewis when Ms. Lewis
assumed the mantle of Executive Vice President of the
Local. Prior to becoming 2nd Vice President, Ms.
Roberts was (and still is) the Local's Health and Safety
Representative in Moore.
All of us in Local 2505 look forward to working with Ms Roberts! She is bright, intelligent, energetic and enthusiastic! She will be as much of an asset to our Local and members as she is to her co-workers and the public she serves for SSA in Moore!
Please join me in welcoming Mary Roberts to the Local's Executive Board, congratulating her on her new position!
Union Clears the Air in Muskogee, and Requests Abatement Plan for Unhealthy Conditions
The Muskogee SSA indoor air quality survey from May 2008 noted potential health and safety problems for employees in calling for remediation of "suspect growth" (i.e., mold); removal of water damaged wall debris in air supply ducts area of HVAC Unit # 9, cleaning of that same unit's condensation coils and realignment of the outside sprinklers away from the building.
As evidenced in the below correspondence with management, Local 2505 President is working to ensure that staff can breathe easy.
Visit our Health and Safety section for documents relevant to YOUR office.