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Chapter Update

Good morning Chapter 141,

Please see the attached Chapter Update.

Overtime

When the Maine Overtime MOU was created in 2018, there were a few things that were not clarified. During the end of the fiscal year last year, it was discovered that a few ports of entry throughout the state were not including overtime that had been assigned but not yet worked in the calculations for assigning overtime. In essence it created 2 overtime lists at these locations, one for anticipated overtime and one for unanticipated overtime. As a result, it created problems with overtime assignments and left us liable for call out violation grievances in the future. To ensure that this liability was eliminated, we approached management and instructed them to use the last Saturday of the pay period in which overtime had been assigned to assign all overtime. This ensures that overtime that is projected to be worked is accounted for when assigning overtime with both anticipated and unanticipated overtime. The language we are looking to add is as follows:

“The parties agree that when supervisors are assigning overtime they will take into account all previously scheduled/anticipated overtime assignments. For this reason, the callout list date that must be used when assigning overtime is the second Saturday of the most recently posted pay period or the last day of the fiscal year, whichever occurs sooner. As described in Article 35, Section 1(B)(4), there may be unanticipated changes to schedules as a result of the cancellation of assignment(s) or adjustments which are made to overtime assignments; however, the Union agrees not to pursue grievances that are a direct result of using the second Saturday of the most recently posted pay period as the callout list date. “

Another issues that arose after the 2018 Overtime MOU was created was the cessation of officers being able to “give up” overtime that was previously volunteered for to the lowest earner volunteer in most locations. We would like to outline this process and add it to the Maine Overtime MOU. The process we would like to add is as follows:

“Employee's who wish to give up overtime that has already been assigned may do so if they find a low earner volunteer to take the shift and is available in COSS. Nothing in this section allows for an employee to give up assigned overtime that will be forced onto another employee. The employee will email the supervisor indicating that they wish to give up the overtime and who the confirmed volunteer is. The supervisor will confirm that the volunteer found is the low earner, confirm that the volunteer is aware of the new assignment and make the reassignment.”

If you have any comments or concerns about these changes, please email Conroy.NTEU141@gmail.com.

JAC Awards

Both Doug and Josh sit on the JAC awards committee. We wanted to ensure that our members are awarded the shares that they are entitled to. We know that many of you believe that doing good work is “part of the job” and do no write yourselves up for collateral duties or conduct that is superior. In most locations, supervisors do not submit awards. It is up to you all to submit each other or even yourself. There is no shame is self-nominations. Some locations have formed committees that submit awards for the coworkers.

We wanted to highlight some of the reasons awards that are submitted are not approved:

Insufficient Justification- This is usually because the write up does not articulate what the individual did during the quarter. For example, the write up may say “Officer ______ maintains the vehicles at the ____ Port of Entry.” The write up does not include the amount of vehicles, the amount of maintenance or what the officer has to do to maintain their collateral duty. Pretty much any collateral duty you have entitles you to at least one share per year, however some are eligible for multiple if you can articulate why it is warranted.

Another example is when a group of officers is nominated for a significant case. Write ups for multiple people need to articulate what each officer did during the significant case. Often times one officer gets credit because they were the primary officer, and other officers who were on shift are just listed on the award. We believe that those other officers probably assisted with the case, but we can’t approve it for them if it is not articulated in the write up.

Bar Harbor Ferry

The Cat Ferry in Bar Harbor has begun, and management has approached us on how to help supplement the Bangor Officers to facilitate this new venture. The procedure will be a rotation per pay period between the AOR’s to provide regular time and overtime staffing. The AOR’s will rotate in a fair and equitable manner and will be done following the least cost, low earner principle. Please let us know if there are any issues that arise from this process.

Operation Southern Support

We have received word that OSS has been suspended. CBP has confirmed that employees selected for the second wave of Operation Southern Support and scheduled to travel tomorrow, will not be deployed in light of the preliminary injunction on the expiration of Title 42. CBP will provide additional information in the coming week.

As many of you have seen in the news, late Friday, a federal district judge issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prohibits the CDC from terminating its Title 42 order that was set to expire on May 23, 2022. As such, the Title 42 order remains in effect. Based on this ruling, today, CBP confirmed that employees who were selected for the second wave of Operation Southern Support will not be deploying tomorrow, as scheduled. According to CBP, it is still reviewing the Court’s order to determine what impact, if any, the injunction will have on processing Title 42 exceptions, or what impact this will have on current TDY employees. CBP stated that it does not expect to have answers over the weekend but will brief NTEU next week with additional information on the current and future state of operations for Operation Southern Support. I will provide you with additional information once we receive it.


COVID Testing

NTEU National has filed a national grievance over CBP’s failure to negotiate the implementation of the testing program. NTEU’s official stance on the testing requirement is that it is not reasonable to test employees at all. The fact that the federal workforce has a significantly higher rate of vaccinations proves that testing is not necessary. If they insist on testing, it is not reasonable to subject only unvaccinated employees to be the only ones tested. Unfortunately, there is not much else we can do other than grieve it, as the testing programs have begun. However, if you feel as if testing goes against your sincerely held beliefs or another federally protected classification, we encourage you to file a reasonable accommodation request with your local management.

Disciplinary Actions

We have seen a significant increase in disciplinary actions throughout the state. Over the past 3 months we have had have 3 cases of proposed removals, 4 cases of suspensions of 5-14+ days and 3 suspensions of 2 or less days working their way through the process.

We have successfully negotiated 2 of the 5-14+ day suspensions to be reduced to an alternative remediation agreement. The other suspensions are either still pending or we have filed grievances after not receiving an acceptable outcome during the oral/written reply process.

We cannot understate the importance of having a union representative involved when you are questioned by OPR or a local “fact finder.” Asking for a union representative does not make you look guilty. We are there to ensure your rights as employees are respected, we help explain the process and ensure that members are not subjected to fishing expeditions that these investigations are often turned into.

Arbitrations

We currently have 1 case headed to arbitration. At the Jackman, Maine Port of Entry, managers have been requiring officers to provide the time, location and duration of members medical appointments. We have challenged this practice, citing Article 37, where it states management MUST accept and officer’s self-certification as administratively acceptable evidence.

Locked Lines

Your local stewards will soon be contacting you about your interest in “locking a line.” There is no doubt that this is a polarizing topic, as our CWS schedules are the best in the country and any changes to them can be perceived as threatening. We hope that explaining why this is happening will help those who are against locked lines understand why we cannot prohibit an employee from locking a line.

This is something that has been kicked down the road since it was included in the 2017 contract. There was a 2 bid cycle moratorium on locked lines that expired in 2019. Like many things, COVID further delayed implementation of locked lines as well as the fact that no ports indicated they were interested in locked lines until last year. Last bid cycle, a few ports throughout the state indicated they were interested in locking a line during BR&P. However, they were not allowed to because there was not a process agreed upon by NTEU and Management.

There are many reasons why someone may wish to lock a line and that is a decision that each employee must make on their own. One of the common reasons someone may wish to lock a line is due to child care. Our rotating schedules are great, as everyone works a little bit of the good parts and bad parts of a schedule. However they are not ideal when an individual has to coordinate child care or other commitments outside of the job. It is not lost on us that this will have an impact on some of our locations, however, this is an option that has been bargained at the national level and is something we must explore.

Some of the questions we have received and their answers about locked lines are listed below:

What is nobody at our port wished to lock a line?

If that is the case, we will not proceed with this process and it will be tabled until the next bid cycle.

Can we vote against locked lines?

No, this is something that is afforded to employees in the contract. Someone else can’t vote to take your rights away.

What are the requirements of the locked line processes?

Like everything we strive for, the process must be fair and equitable. Just because you have locked a line does not mean you are exempt from relief.

Additionally, just because you lock a line does, not mean you get the pick of the litter compared to those who wish to rotate. The process that gets created and adopted should ensure that everyone who wishes to lock a line can do so. However, that does not mean that if the officer fresh out of FLETC is the only one in the port who wishes to lock a line, they get whatever they want. They can lock a line that is available to them by seniority. We are looking to the ports/you to come up with a process that is fair and equitable to strike that balance that works for your location.

Why are we not making a generic process for the whole state?

We have many different CWS agreements throughout the state in very different locations. It is best that the local ports come up with their own processes. We have a few ideas of how it can work but we will leave it up to the local areas to see what works for them as long as the above requirements are met.

Why is this happening?

This has been something that has been kicked down the road since the new contract in 2017.. Last year during BR&P, a few ports of entry had officers attempt to bid to a locked line during BR&P. This was not allowed because a process was not in place prior to the start of BR&P. In essence, the language outlined in Article 34 for non-CWS agreements has to be added to your local MOUs in order for locked lines to occur.

Is there a "deadline" when someone needs to commit to lock a line? Can an officer come in the day of the bid and try to lock a line?

We recommend ports create a process where at some point prior to BR&P, members will have to declare if they wish to lock a line or not. Based on feedback from the ports interested in locking a line,

What is an example of what this process could look like?

Process 1

Step 1: Prior to BR&P, by inverse seniority, members declare if they wish to lock a line or not. This would be a binding poll, meaning if you do not say you wish to lock a line, you will not be able to when BR&P starts.


Step 2: By seniority, members go through the schedule and select a line to either rotate through or to lock.


For example, say a port has 20 officers, a 20 line schedule, 2 relief lines and the 3rd and 20th most senior officers wish to lock a line. Officers 1 and 2 select a line they wish to rotate through. Officer #3 picks a line they want to lock, officer 4-19 picks a line they want to rotate through and officer #20 picks the line that is left over. If officer number 15 sees a line they wish to lock, they are unable to because they did not declare it during step 1.


Step 3: The locked lines are removed from the rotation, the issues created (long stretches, 24 hour shifts etc) are eliminated and regular BR&P is conducted for the rotating schedule. Those who lock are on relief every 10 pay periods, the same amount as those rotating.


Process 2


Step 1: BR&P is conducted and everyone locks a line.


Step 2: Members meet and decide amongst themselves who wishes to rotate and who wishes to stay with their locked lines and what the rotation is.

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