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Sept. 3, 2010

Is Your Agency Rated A Best Place to Work? Click here to find out. For three years in a row, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been voted by its employees the best place to work in the federal government. According to the Partnership for Public Service's annual Best Places to Work rankings, NRC was followed closely by the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The lowest-rated agencies were the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Archives and Records Administration. The most improved large federal agencies were Transportation and Treasury, which raised their standings among employees by 15.8 percent and 8.2 percent respectively. The Federal Labor Relations Authority is another agency that ranked better this year - 20 out of 34. Last year it came in last among small agencies. But some agencies saw steep drops, including the Veterans Affairs Department, which dropped from 12th to 21st, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which dropped from 11th to 24th. While there are many factors involved in how federal employees view their workplace, the primary driver is effective leadership. The survey also shows that private sector employees continued to be more satisfied with their jobs, organizations and supervisors than their federal counterparts, even though federal employees' attitudes in these areas are improving.

"A high level of satisfaction and employee commitment translates into better organizational performance and government effectiveness," the Partnership said in the report issued this week.  

The rankings are based on the Office of Personnel Management's annual survey of federal employee. The 2010 survey included more than 263,000 employees from 32 large agencies, 34 small agencies and 224 agency subcomponents.

Obama to Speak at Milwaukee's Laborfest on Labor Day: President Barack Obama is scheduled to give a speech to working families and the general public at Milwaukee's Laborfest on Sept. 6. Also speaking at the event are Labor Department Secretary Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The annual festival is organized by the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

AFGE Wins Reinstatement for BOP Employee: AFGE Local 3975 was successful in getting a member's removal mitigated to a written reprimand, in an arbitrator's decision issued Aug. 24. AFGE successfully argued that several of the charges against the employee, a Bureau of Prisons correctional officer at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, N.J., were untimely and most of the others were unfounded due to the evidence presented at hearing. The arbitrator agreed and said the weight of the evidence was in the employee's favor, except for one minor charge. The employee will be restored with all back pay plus interest, and is entitled to all other parts of the "make whole" remedy.

Eight D.C. Employees to Receive a Combined $180,000 in Back Pay: Eight current and former AFGE Local 383 compliance specialists at the D.C. Department of Disability Services will receive a combined $180,000 in back pay in response to a union grievance filed in 2007. The agency had promised to move the specialists from Grade 12 to Grade 13 in 2005, but not all specialists received the higher pay, even though job requirements and duties are the same at both grade levels. Some specialists who were given the higher grade were demoted to the lower grade shortly thereafter. AFGE secured the settlement Aug. 24, just one day before arbitration was scheduled to begin. The agency agreed to pay compensation to employees who no longer worked at the agency and to the family of another employee who has since died.

Veterans to Receive Retroactive Stop Loss Pay: Retired or former service members as well as members of the Reserve component who were involuntarily held on active duty beyond an approved separation or retirement date as a result of stop loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, are eligible for the special pay of $500 for each whole or partial month they were affected. The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriation Act set aside $534.4 million for the retroactive stop loss special pay. Those eligible have until Oct. 21, 2010, to file their claim. To check your eligibility and for further information, click here or here

SSA Still Ignores Labor-Management Executive Order: It's been more than eight months since President Obama signed Executive Order 13522 creating labor-management forums and high-ranking officials within Social Security continue to ignore that directive. The EO's purpose was a simple one: to involve employees through their unions in the decision-making process, improve labor-management relations, improve the federal government's productivity, and measure the progress of providing better service. "It's obvious that Commissioner Michael Astrue and members of his staff have shown no interest at all in implementing this order," said Witold Skwierczynski, AFGE's Chief Negotiator for the ongoing contract talks. "They are deliberately and defiantly ignoring a Presidential directive. Fifty of 51 agency forum plans have been approved. Social Security is still the only federal agency without a certified plan." The failure to have an acceptable plan is being discussed by the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations.

AFGE President John Gage recently sent a letter to the national council workgroup, which was established to oversee the progress being made on the executive order. Gage pointed out that SSA submitted another plan in July to the workgroup, which fails to meet the requirement of the EO. He urged the committee to reject the agency's latest proposal. "[It] requires each agency head to submit an implementation plan in consultation with union representatives," President Gage wrote. "No such consultation has occurred with AFGE despite the fact that AFGE represents 96% of employees who are in bargaining units in SSA."

Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE's radio show, Inside Government, for a look back at Hurricane Katrina and the work done by federal employees during the crisis. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Aug. 27, is now available on demand. Former AFGE Federal Emergency Management Agency Local 4060 President Leo Bosner discussed his work during Hurricane Katrina as a FEMA watch officer. Bosner, who developed FEMA's National Situation Reports prior to the storm, shared his thoughts on FEMA's lack of preparation and the agency's struggles under the Department of Homeland Security. AFGE Federal Law Enforcement Committee Secretary-Treasurer Jim Aldridge then addressed his time in New Orleans after the hurricane hit. Aldridge was a police officer stationed at the New Orleans VA Medical Center, where he helped evacuate staff and secure the hospital. Describing New Orleans as a "war zone," Aldridge indicated a need for more planning and better coordination between federal agencies to deal with the crisis. Also on the show, Maryland Citizens Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco discussed his work to build coalitions around issues such as gun control, health care, and tobacco regulation.

Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at www.federalnewsradio.com. For more information, please visit www.insidegovernmentradio.com.