Right wing GOP lawmaker unveils pension cut for federal union stewards

Imagine having your pension cut because you’re the union steward. That’s what right-wing Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., wants to inflict on federal workers.

Hice dropped a bill in the hopper, HR1364, on March 6, whose official purpose is “to exclude certain official time for eligibility under CSRS and FERS and for other purposes.”

To cut through the euphemisms: “Certain official time,” is time that federal union shop stewards, representing both union and non-union workers, meet with management to thrash out problems on the job – and nothing else.

And “CSRS” and “FERS” are the two federal employee pension programs, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.

And “exclude from eligibility” means you can’t count the hours spent as a steward towards your pension, even if you still get paid by the feds.

Hice’s bill is yet another attack, virtually all from the radical right and the congressional Republicans, against federal workers and their unions, says the largest of those unions, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

Past attacks have been more of a blunderbuss: Banning pay for use of official time for shop steward business. They’ve been shot down. This is more of a stealth attack, says AFGE President J. David Cox.

Hice justifies HR1364 by claiming the union stewards use the time for politics, a frequent GOP charge. Not only do they not do that, but it’s illegal to do that, Cox wrote leaders of the committee, which received Hice’s bill. The panel passed it on a party-line vote March 9.

Cox called Hice’s bill “a blatant attempt to bust federal employee unions and silence the voice of workers in decisions that impact not only their jobs, but services the American people rely on.”  Other federal worker union leaders, including NTEU’s Tony Reardon, agree.

AFGE noted the stewards are volunteers who spend their days working with managers to solve on-the-job problems, resolve disputes, address discrimination and retaliation claims and discuss ways to make government more responsive and more efficient. “Official time is official agency business,” the union says.

“Federal managers and their employees are fully competent to negotiate the terms of official time, when it is needed, how much is needed, and where it should be used to address unique agency and workplace issues,” AFGE said in a letter to lawmakers. “This legislation creates a form of micromanaging that will tie the hands of supervisors and agency officials when it comes to scheduling meetings, legal proceedings, and non-official time work for union representatives, ultimately discouraging the use of official time.”

Source: PAI