We completed our third week of negotiations. This week, Region 5 VP Gabrielle Vitellio presented to the negotiation teams on the Administrative Procedure Act and our role in ensuring the due process rights of claimants. From the survey results (link below), we know how important judicial independence is to you.
2019 AALJ Educational Conference
This year’s conference is October 22-24, 2019, with travel days on the 21 and 25, in Reno, Nevada. Region 4N Vice President Matt Martin along with his committee to include Christine Guard and John Costello are planning a dynamic conference for you! We are staying at the beautiful Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel and have partnered with the National Judicial College. We encourage you to block these dates off on your hearing calendars to ensure your attendance. More details to follow soon.
AFGE Council 220
While in Baltimore, your negotiation team was pleased to meet with AFGE Council 220 President Rich Couture. Rich gave us insight into his experiences at the bargaining table. We also met with AFGE Deputy Director Marlin Jenkins, who briefed us on AFGE’s recent oral arguments related to the government’s appeal of the three Executive Orders that grossly limited union rights in the federal sector.
Marlin also briefed us on AFGE’s proceedings before the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). We appreciate the willingness of both to share their expertise. We welcome the opportunity to work with AFGE as well as NTEU.
IFPTE International Representative David LaFemina serves on our negotiation team and has extensive experience with federal sector negotiations since the issuance of the three Executive Orders. While significant portions of the orders were found to be illegal, they are under appeal as described above. In addition,
agencies throughout the federal sector are attempting to implement them through collective bargaining. We also receive extensive support from the IFPTE Secretary/Treasurer and Legislative Liaison Matt Biggs. Matt schedules meetings on the Hill for us as well as advocates on our behalf. Our legislative committee, to include Chair Gabrielle Vitellio and Janice Holmes, work with Matt Biggs to bring your concerns to light. The support of David and Matt is greatly appreciated and why we are a local of IFPTE.
Recent News From FSIP
FSIP ruled on the HHS/NTEU collective bargaining proposals. The rulings were almost entirely in favor of the agency. For more information, here is a Government Executive article: Gov Exec Impasse Article
Here is the FSIP ruling, 18 FSIP 077 from the FLRA website (click on first case listed on the page):
It’s important you understand the backdrop as we move forward. We will continue to advocate for efficient, common sense solutions and ways to best serve the American public. Unfortunately, the climate is hostile toward all unions.
Accurate Reporting of Hours
Many of you were concerned by the large number of hours we are losing every year as we try to schedule 50 hearings a month, and issue 500 to 700 dispositions a year. The goal is neither reasonable nor sustainable. Please ensure you are accurately reporting in WebTA all hours worked even if doing so results in hours being forfeited because they exceed the maximum amount allowed to be carried over per pay period. It will allow us to more effectively advocate on your behalf.
Post Lucia Concerns
The recent case of Bradshaw v. Berryhill 5:18-CV-00100-RN, 2019 WL 1510953 (E.D.N.C. March 26, 2019) further supports our constitutional claim. The Agency conceded that we are inferior officers. A FOIA request was submitted, requesting to know if the Agency has obtained a legal opinion from their own General Counsel, the Department of Justice, or anyone else, regarding whether the Deputy Commissioner for Hearings and Operations may constitutionally supervise administrative law judges who are inferior officers. The Agency responded by saying they had no such opinion. We have conferred with noted constitutional scholars, and have drafted two letters to the agency asserting our constitutional claim. While we await their response, we are also considering all options to assert this significant claim on your behalf.
Our survey results are published on the AALJ website. To make sure everyone has seen the newest surveys you can click on the links: AALJ Survey #1 2019
It is significant to note that only 3% of judges believe that headquarters leadership values our well being or our work life balance. We trust that the emails from leadership we receive, thanking us for our efforts and success in reducing the backlog, will materialize in reasonable, mission-oriented improvements that enable us to work at a sustainable pace and have work life balance.
It’s our honor to work for you. Thank you for your support. Melissa
Melissa McIntosh AALJ President