From: AFGE Local 1164 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Mar 17, 2020 at 7:45 AM
Subject: Local 1164 on closing offices to the public, teleworking, and our next general meeting
Good morning everyone,
By now many of you have been made aware that our offices will be closed to the public effective today. The agency issued a press release as such late yesterday which we then posted to our social media accounts on Facebook and our website. While this is a positive step in the right direction, it is something that could have been done earlier as a common sense approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally there is more that can be done. While telework has been rolled out to those with health conditions and those who have unexpected childcare issues due to school closings, telework needs to be rolled out to all employees in our field, hearings, and workload support unit offices regardless of health condition or child care.
We have been in touch with our Representatives and Senators in DC who have been working to get the agency to reintroduce telework. We need your help in ensuring that the entire New England Congressional delegation is on board with this. Please take the time to contact your Congresswoman / Congressman, and both of your Senators about getting telework for everyone at social security.
In Commissioner Saul's message to employees sent out after the press release, he went on to praise employees for their work and also declared that this is being done for employee safety. Based on the Commissioner's actions regarding employees over the past several months, it is quite clear that employees are being undermined at every possible moment. Employees are not held in a high regard by the Commissioner.
I have taken some steps to help mitigate the spread of this virus in the local as part of our response to social distancing, or flattening the curve. Our local was planning a contract training session for our executive committee and area representatives this week. I made the decision on Sunday to postpone that indefinitely in order to prevent the travel and possible community spread among the targeted individuals for this training. As a result of this postponement, steward contract training will also be delayed.
I also announced the next general members meeting on our website last Thursday. On Sunday I decided to postpone the April general members meeting previously scheduled for April 11th in Springfield, MA. This is also intended to prevent community spread among members of the local, and is also in compliance with the Massachusetts governors order on group gatherings over 25 people. We will have this meeting but it will be delayed until further notice.
Your national union representatives and local executive committee members are doing the best they can to respond and also bring issues up to the national, regional, and local level as has been the case over the past week. This has been a very trying time with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic combined with a recalcitrant commissioner who has made it clear he does not hold employees in the same high regard as in the past. While SSA fell in the best places to work in the federal government last year, it'll be very interesting to find where it ends up on that ranking for this year.
We still have a lot of work to do to get telework for all employees at this time. The agency previously told Congress in yearly reports that telework was rolled out for numerous reasons including but not limited to continuity of government / emergency preparedness, a goal of employee recruitment, a goal of employee retention, and a goal of improved employee attitudes (See page 201 of this document: https://www.telework.gov/reports-studies/reports-to-congress/2018-report-to-congress.pdf ). It's time for SSA to get back on track.
Please reach out to your area vice president or to me with any questions or issues that you might have as we move forward. Consider following us on Facebook at AFGE Local 1164 or our website afgelocal1164.org. Thank you for your time.
Gregory R. Lalak
AFGE Local 1164 President
200 High St
Holyoke, MA 01040
Union e-mail: email@example.com Please do not send any PII to this email address.
Visit us online: http://afgelocal1164.org/
Find us on Facebook: @AFGELocal1164
Secure union fax: 1-617-488-2258
Agency e-mail: Gregory.Lalak@ssa.gov