AFGE LOCAL 2113 RESPONSE TO ANONYMOUS E-MAIL

NAWCTSD employees recently (Jan'01) received a message with subject "Your Right to Vote" from TSDvote@aol.com. As your exclusive representative, Local 2113 believes we have an obligation to point out the various misrepresentations and distortions of "pertinent points" contained within that message:


1. The writer states "there are three equal alternatives to the Labor Union available to all TSD employees."

This statement is misleading and false. Without a Union, the employee grievances would be reviewed and adjudicated by the same Agency committing the grievance in a two step process with no outside appeal rights. That is not equivalent to our contract which specifies an outside, neutral arbitrator may be used to decide cases which exhaust the internal three step process available to employees with our Union.

The Merit Systems Protection Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are available to employees who have Union representation as well as to those who do not. Without a Union though, to whom would you go to for information on filing statutory appeals with those Agencies? Would you go to Management, who made the decision prompting your appeal, or would you rather go to your Union, where representatives have received training in the grievance and statutory appeal areas, including MSPB and EEO? Did you know, MSPB only accepts appeals meeting certain criteria, such as, suspensions of over 14 days, loss of retirement or disability benefits, demotion, denial of within grade steps, and dismissals for cause. Have you ever asked OMP to explain their own guidelines? OPM does not have the staff to answer questions; if you want answers they recommend you hire a lawyer.

With a Union, you have a three-step grievance procedure with binding arbitration, and MSPB and EEO appeal rights. Without a Union you have an Agency controlled two step grievance process with no right to arbitration and MSPB and EEO rights with no right to a representative to help you prepare your case. You decide.


2. The message states "the Federal Labor Relations Authority assures us that all members of the bargaining units, whether union members, or not, are legally authorized to attend the union meetings."

This statement is total fabrication. Union member meetings are for Union members to transact the business of the Local. We do allow members to invite guests. An employee does not have a right to be present or participate in union meetings if they are not a member; just like you have no right to be present during a homeowner's association meeting if you are not a member of that association. No one at the FLRA would suggest otherwise. The person making this claim should step forward and identify the source of their misinformation so we can challenge them directly.

Aside from that, every employee in a bargaining unit is entitled to equal representation without regard to Union membership. Just check out your contract no special Union member privileges anywhere!


3. The message states "employee wages, benefits and conditions of employment are provided by NAVAIR."

Everyone knows Congress sets wages and defines benefits -- not NAVAIR. At the national level AFGE vigorously lobbies Congress for equitable pay adjustments and benefit enhancements for Government workers. Many of us received a special pay raise last year for Information Technology (IT) workers when your Union, as exclusive representative, questioned the legality of paying different rates for the same or similar work. [The Union's argument would lead to conversion of electronics engineers to computer engineers (not the other way round). It would have been illegal for Management to change employees' classification for the sole purpose of paying them less. Yet the labor relations specialist pretended to hold up employees' pay raise until the issue was settled. Another illegal act the Union would have fought.] AFGE lobbyists and members lobbied vigorously for pay parity with the military resulting in a full percentage point raise (4.6% average vice 3.6%) over what the Administration recommended. Last year, AFGE helped pass legislation to repeal the one-half percent retirement surcharge, and convinced the Office of Personnel Management to exempt health insurance premiums from taxation. AFGE put money back into everyone's pockets.

A labor union has the right to negotiate changes to conditions of employment as specified in 5 U.S.C. 7102 and 7114. Individuals have no such right.


4. The message states that "approximately 120 (15%) are dues paying members."

We are at a loss to explain where the mystery writer gets the facts on Union membership. Local 2113 surpassed 120 members after affiliation with AFGE four years ago. Our membership changes monthly as new members join us, and other members transfer or retire. Our membership varies from between 18% to 21% of the eligible employees. You don't have to be a member to enjoy the rights negotiated on your behalf, and employees are free to choose Union membership or not.


5. The last point related to Union officials' salaries being paid "from NAWCTSD overhead."

Official time is negotiated between the Agency and the Union. Unions are responsible for representing employees with respect to contract provisions regardless of Union membership; the benefit for employees is they are not required to join the Union in order to receive the benefits of Union expertise and coverage under our negotiated contract.