Good morning Chapter 141,
Please see the attached Chapter Update.
Ad hoc Leave/ PT FIT Arbitration
We are slated to go to arbitration in November over AD Hoc leave denials. As I’m sure you have seen at your own ports, management will deny Adhoc leave when staffing would drop to a certain number, yet they won’t authorize overtime when staffing drops below that same number. Management lists “due to minimum staffing” when it denies your Adhoc leave. We hope that this will stop the games that management plays when it comes to approving Ad Hoc leave.
This is your reminder to always put your Ad Hoc leave requests in COSS before asking management for the time off. We are hopeful that if we win this arbitration, management will no longer be allowed to play this game and follow a consistent application of what “minimum staffing” really is.
Shift Differential on Leave/Paid Parental Leave
As you may know, CBP has refused to pay night differential to CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists when those employees take paid parental leave (or COVID-related emergency paid leave, when that type of leave was still available). NTEU won at arbitration on this issue, but CBP appealed to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). That appeal has been pending since September 2022. I’m pleased to report, however, that on Friday, NTEU came one step closer to winning that appeal—and securing back pay for employees who were denied night differential—when the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued an opinion agreeing with NTEU’s position. The legal dispute between CBP and NTEU involves the so-called “eight-hour rule,” a provision of the Federal Employee Pay Act (FEPA) holding that employees who receive night differential under that Act are only entitled to such night differential when they take fewer than eight hours of leave in a pay period. CBP argues that because of the eight-hour rule, CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists—who receive night differential under the Customs Officer Pay Reform Act (COPRA), not FEPA—are not entitled to night differential when they take paid parental leave or emergency paid leave. NTEU maintains that the eight-hour rule does not apply to COPRA night differential. Now, OPM does too. The FLRA will take OPM’s opinion into consideration when deciding how to rule in the pending appeal. An ultimate victory before the FLRA will require the two current members (a Republican appointee and a Democrat appointee) to agree with OPM and NTEU’s position. But OPM’s opinion today gives us the best chances of success we could hope for. We will update you when we receive the FLRA’s final decision.
COVID Hazard Pay
We are being told that the arbitrator is waiting for a supreme court decision of another pending litigation matter prior to issuing his decision on COVID Hazard Pay. We will update you when we get updates on this issue. There has not been an update to the status of this grievance since the last chapter update.
One of our members (non uniform personnel) requested a telework reasonable accommodation as the result of their service connected disability. Their management team mishandled the request from the beginning,
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. Additionally, we are there to defend your actions when warranted, research other incidents and talk some sense into the managers that are deciding these cases.
A fine example of this was an incident that happened in one of our locations. Management attempted to make an example out of the officers involved. This incident took place at a smaller port of entry that does not have the technology, design or engineering controls that newer ports have. The 2 officers on duty were tasked with a rapidly evolving case dealing with 2 travelers who were turned around by CBSA.
These officers had 4 critical tasks to complete and only 2 officers to complete them: Search the vehicle, monitor the 2 travelers, conduct checks and run primary/the port. While these officers attempted to manage all of that, there was a 18 second window where one of the subjects got up from the seats in the lobby and was out of view.
Management proposed to suspend one officer, who wasn’t even in the building at the time, for 2 days and the other officer for 14 days. These officers were trying to do their job efficiently, quickly with limited resources. They were not sleeping in the booth or texting on their phone, they were working to figure out what was going on with these two out of the ordinary travelers. This could have happened to any of our officers at any of our locations. I am glad we were able to assist them so in the end, they did not face any suspension or loss of pay. I pity the non-dues paying members who would probably take this lying down instead of being able to fight back.
Additionally, chapter 141 has completed the following disciplinary action cases:
12 day suspension reduced to 2 day suspension
14 day suspension reduced to a letter of reprimand with 5 days held in abeyance
Proposed 2 day suspension- Everything dropped and an apology letter given to the officer from the Port Director
Proposed 12 days mitigated to 10 days
Proposed removal- Reassigned to a GS-11 position
3 day suspension- Letter of Reprimand
45 day suspension reduced to a 14 day suspension.
Vanceboro Rail Overtime Procedures
We were contacted by our members in Vanceboro about how management was assigning overtime based on the rail schedule. For those of you who work with the railroad, you know how inconsistent the notification process can be. Management was not holding the rail accountable, creating a system that caused chaos, denied our members call back/commutes, as well as other practical issues. We negotiated a process that uses an arbitrary method, (when the train arrives at a set location) to use at the start of the overtime job.
Emergency Notification System
Management requested that we notify our members about the importance of the Emergency Notification System. They stated that some locations did not respond to the notifications sent out for the tropical storm earlier this month, which caused those locations to send someone to their homes to make contact with the employees. We ask that you respond to the system in the future so this can be avoided.