Dear Secretary Johnson
January 29, 2014
I am writing on behalf of the 78,000 DHS employees represented by my union, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE). I realize that you have only recently taken the helm. I was hoping for a real change in DHS behavior. I am outraged that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acted to unilaterally suspend administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) for up to 900 employees. DHS has abrogated its statutory obligation to engage and notify AFGE, the largest union representing DHS employees (including the impacted agencies ofICE and Border Patrol), regarding this decision. Thousands of DHS employees receive AUO in discharging their duties as law enforcement officers, and the pay they receive for that work is implicated in this change. DHS has abysmal labor management relations, this act is as one of extreme bad faith.
The first phase of the de-authorization announced yesterday specifically targeted areas that OSC identified in its 2008 and 2013 reports. The only exceptions were the Laredo North and Lyndon (now presumed to be Sumas) Washington, Border Patrol Stations. Due to the field activities being performed at the two stations, a waiver was requested, and the Union will learn more about the waivers this Friday. There is no doubt that these stations perform work that qualifies for AUO and therefore, de-authorization is not appropriate. As such, If DHS denies the waiver request, the Union will have no choice but to take appropriate action, which in turn will cost the Agency a substantial amount of money in lost wages and attorney's fees when the Union prevails.
NBPC has received information from very good sources that sometime this week, and possibly as early as today, DHS will notify OBP that the use of AUO for managers at HQ, the Situation Room and all agents at the Academy and Asset Forfeiture will no longer be allowed. These were the specific areas most recently investigated by OSC, but OSC is continuing and expanding their investigation into Sector and Station level use of AUO.
• DHS will also notify ERO and AMO that AUO is no longer allowed for their components (they were also named in the OSC report). DHS will give OBP, ERO and AMO a deadline, presumably 180 days, to implement this change.
• The NBPC is concerned about this knee jerk reaction by DHS. We feel it will cause irreparable harm to border security and the Border Patrol. The President of the United States will make his State of the Union address tonight and one of the topics he discusses will undoubtedly be “Immigration Reform”. But while he’s laying out the need for “reform”, our borders continue to come under attack by this Administration, lawmakers, and the organized crime cartels who control almost all the illegal activity on the United States border.
• The Senate passed their version of Immigration Reform, which calls for 20,000 new Border Patrol agents. But we’re not allowing our agents to work the number of hours now that are required to secure the border. This AUO purge that appears to be coming is going to further handcuff agents and destroy morale in this Agency. So the question is, what is more important to the American people, amnesty for illegal aliens or real border security? Amnesty seems to have all the steam, and real border security continues to take a beating at the hands of politicians and bureaucrats with political agendas to pursue. Simply disgraceful.