Board Members

President Sue Parton
Vice President David Garza
Secretary/Treasurer Jim Gertner
BIA Representative Tony Rowe
BIE Representative Connie Weldon-Montero
OST Representative Janelle Horse

Washington Visit

May 3, 2013

Dear Members,

As many of you know, yesterday Mr. Garza, FISE Executive Vice President, and I met with officials in Washington, D.C., including Mr. James Burckman, Director, Human Capital Management and Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn. The purpose of the meetings was to discuss the union's concerns with Indian Affairs' application of furloughs to FISE members and to obtain information from management about what steps they have taken to avoid furloughs. We raised concerns with both Mr. Burckman and Assistant Secretary Washburn that our members were being unfairly burdened with the furloughs when only a few other agency employees were subject to furloughs. We also conveyed many of the concerns we have heard from you - that contract employees are still working full-time, that travel and discretionary costs are not being reduced as promised, and that vacant positions continue to be filled even with furloughs hanging over our heads. In addition, we served Mr. Burckman and Assistant Secretary Washburn with a request from our attorney for records to prove that management has taken all steps to cut unnecessary costs prior to resorting to furloughs. In addition, the union asked for specific positions in writing that will be exempt from the furlough. Once the requested information is received from management, FISE will file a universal grievance on behalf of all affected employees. The union will continue to work collaboratively with management to further reduce the number of furlough days imposed on our members.

During the meetings, we learned that management is still working to finalize the number of furlough days employees may be expected to take. We were informed that it is possible, but not certain, that the number of days may be reduced below eight once the final figures are calculated from the number of employees who opted to separate from service under a buy-out or early retirement. I know each of you is concerned about the furloughs and I wanted to give you the latest information available and to communicate that the union is taking this matter very seriously. We continue to do everything in our power to fight for our members.

As more information becomes available, I will certainly post it on this website. To see the exact information request by the union’s attorney, please click here.

Sue Parton, President

Federation of Indian Service Employees

Union Efforts Regarding Sequestration

Many of our Bargaining Unit Members recently received notification that they were mandated to schedule 8 days or 64 hours of unpaid furlough to meet the Indian Affairs division of the Department of Interior's requirement for their share of over $880 million reduction. The Union will file a Universal Grievance against Indian Affairs, skipping steps 1 and 2 of the process, and through mutual agreement, file a Step 3 grievance with Mr. Jim Burckman's office.

As is negotiated protocol, we have sent an information request for documented evidence of alternative measures that IA took prior to making the decision to furlough employees. We also scheduled a face to face meeting with Mr. Burckman (in Washington, DC) next week to informally attempt to come to a resolution regarding the adverse impact these furloughs will have on our employees as well as on the agency's mission and obligation to provide services to the Native people of this country.

To support this grievance, we ask all BU employees who want to be a part of the class action grievance to provide the Union officials with the following:

  • A signed "Authorization for Representation" form which can be obtained from the Key Documents page of our website, http://fise-aft.org. Please give to your local steward or fax to the national office at (505) 243-4098.
  • Also required will be a brief written justification as to why you feel you should not be furloughed (either because your duties are essential to the mission of your agency OR if you feel your administrative offices have not done enough other cost savings initiatives first.

Please continue to visit our website for further updates of how your Union is working on your behalf throughout these unfortunate times that have been thrust upon all of us through these sequestration driven actions brought about by US Congress' inactions.

In Solidarity,

Sue Parton, President

Federation of Indian Service Employees

Save your Union Money!

The Department of Labor requires by law all election information be sent to the members’ home. To ensure FISE has up-to-date addresses and to avoid the extra costs of mailing to the wrong addresses, please enter all required information.

Don’t be left out.

BIE CONTRACT EDUCATORS

Sick Leave Donor Bank

A Sick Leave Donor Bank will be established at each school.

  • All donated leave to the Bank by employees will be for that school only.
  • Each bargaining unit employee will donate two (2) hours of personal leave per SY only.
  • The committee is comprised of 2 Bargaining Unit Members and 1 manager.
  • Sick leave is donated to the Bank and disbursed by the Committee in accordance with the procedures established.
  • Employees may donate more sick leave into the bank at any time during the year, if they choose.
  • Sick leave may be donated in any amount up to 120 hours.
  • Only employees who have depleted their sick leave hours are eligible to access sick leave hours from this bank.
  • Unused year end balances in the bank will be carried over from year to year.

Reference: CBA Article 30, Section 9 pg. 103

Purpose:

The sick leave bank was established to help employees requiring additional sick leave. Rather than requesting sick leave donations through email; this bank is established to insure there is available leave for those who need assistance.

Questions

How did this happen?

When negotiations began on the new CBA, employees were asked to submit any issues they would like addressed. The members the Union did hear from indicated that not having a sick leave bank was a major issue.

The negotiators of the agreement took this and other suggestions to the table.

Negotiators are a small group of people who have to consider the best interest of all those that they represent. The Union represents all bargaining unit members. A negotiation is a compromise between management and the Union. By law, the negotiators are required to have the authority to enter into agreements which bind the parties they represent. The sick leave bank is an issue that is collective and everyone must be considered. The Union realizes the demographics of our employees and believes this assured accessibility to sick leave will become necessary for the majority and is a valuable benefit to employees.

In the future when negotiations for the CBA are announced, remember it is your responsibility and opportunity to inform the Union as to what issues you would like addressed and considered.

Why weren’t we given an option to use sick leave rather than personal leave?

During negotiations, both Union and Management determined it would be in the employees’ best interest to use personal leave because it has less value than sick leave in the long term.

Personal leave is at present wage. Unused PL is paid out at 75% of your present wage at the end of the year. Whereas, sick leave is earned at your present wage, but will be used at the end of your career with the government at your highest wage level. Also, sick leave will be converted to time in service. Employees do not have this option with personal leave. If you retire on or before Tuesday, December 31, 2013 you can only use ½ of your accrued sick leave toward time in service but if you retire after Tuesday, January 01, 2014 you can use the entire amount toward your time in service.

Can individual work sites have any control over how this donation process will work?

A Sick Leave Donor Bank Committee should be established at each site early in the academic year. This committee may then study the CBA and work with HR personnel to somewhat customize the process to best accommodate the site’s needs. All committees will have to follow the established requirements but there is some leeway for the committee on certain decisions. Please see CBA Article 30, Section 9 pg. 103

Why now? Why not at the beginning of the year?

The reason it wasn't taken out at the beginning of this school year is because NBC (payroll) had to design a software program specifically to track these hours, which was just recently accomplished. Beginning next year, the deduction will automatically occur at the beginning of the school year.

What if you have used your personal leave?

FOR THIS YEAR ONLY due to the late implementation, HR is willing to let employees who have already used their personal leave earn two hours of compensatory leave, which could be substituted for the two hour donation into the sick leave bank. An amendment by the Business Tech (time keeper) will be necessary for this to happen.

What about Management; are they contributing to this Leave Bank?

To correct any misconceptions, Management is donating two (2) administrative leave hours for each bargaining unit member, as a matching contribution.

Bereavement Leave for BIE

This is an explanation for BIE (what happened to bereavement leave and how other leave can be used in place of it).

Bereavement Leave for BIE

There have been some concerns over the loss of bereavement leave for BIE. FISE would like to explain how the change came about. During the negotiation for the present CBA it was agreed by both sides that the past contract was not in compliance according to present federal regulations. Management and FISE agreed that the present CBA would follow the federal regs, which is actually required by federal law. As it were BIE employees did not have bereavement leave offered to them under federal regulations, 5 CFR 630, so the wording was removed for BIE employees.

There has been a misconception that Bereavement was its own type of leave and was not charged to the employee. As you can see it is charged to the rest of the other bureaus as sick leave.

The other bureaus use Article 17 Leave Section 4B 1&2 pg. 61 of the current CBA which states:

Sick Leave for Family Care, Bereavement Purposes, or Serious Health Condition

(1) Sick Leave for Family Care or Bereavement Purposes: Most Federal employees may use a total of up to 104 hours (13 work days) of sick leave each leave year to:

a. provide care for a family member who is incapacitated as a result of physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth;

b. provide care for a family member as a result of medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment; or

c. make arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or attend the funeral of a family member.

BIE did not lose this per se as these same conditions can be met under FMLA and BIE can use a combination of comp time, sick leave and personal leave. Also, we have religious leave (CT) which is located in Article 17 section 11 pg. 65 of the present CBA:

Section 11. Religious Leave

It is agreed that every effort will be given to accommodating the employee in meeting their religious commitments in attending various tribal or secular ceremonies by allowing the flexibility in granting appropriate leave (which may also include a combination of various types of leave). Advance collaboration between the employee and his/her supervisor will be required in order to address workload requirements. An employee may also request the opportunity to perform compensatory overtime work for the purpose of taking compensatory time off.

This type of leave will need to be declared as religious leave and does not expire nor is there a payout if it is not used. This should be recorded on your time sheet as RL. It is very limited on its use so you do not want to declare very many hours in this specific category. The use is strictly for the specific ceremony and does not include travel time, etc.

Memo on Same Sex Spouse Benefits

Click here to read a memorandum from the United States Office of Personnel Management regarding extension of benefits to married gay and lesbian federal employees, annuitants, and their families. Adobe Reader required to view this document.

Weingarten Rights

Weingarten Rights are the rights of a worker to union representation when being questioned by management on a matter that could result in disciplinary action. The workers must ask for such representation; the employer is not required to tell the worker of his/her rights.  The term derives from a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision. 
 
BUT YOU, AS THE EMPLOYEE, NEED TO INVOKE YOUR RIGHTS, I.E., YOU MUST INFORM YOUR SUPERVISOR THAT YOU NEED YOUR UNION REPRESENTATIVE TO BE PRESENT.
 
PLEASE NOTE, the Federal Government acknowledges that unions are needed by workers.