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The value of official time

Why should union stewards be allowed to use duty time to represent employees, some elected officials have asked, characterizing the practice as a waste of taxpayer money. But official time benefits our customers--the American people. Here's how:

Benefits of union membership

Better working conditions is the main benefit of a unionized workforce. But there are individual benefits to AFGE membership as well. Check out https://www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=MemberBenefits for a list of benefits including insurance, computers, legal assistance, scholarships, pet care, travel, and discounts on a variety of goods and services.

Happy Labor Day

On this holiday, enjoy your time off and remember those who fought hard to obtain the benefits we now enjoy. AFGE's national Labor Day message, discussing the history of this holiday and the future of labor, is here: http://www.afge.org/index.cfm?contentID=4686

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First raise in four years: 1%

President Obama issued an Executive Order for GS employees to receive a 1% raise, the first since 2010. Govexec reports, "The raise will kick in on Jan. 1 and only apply to feds’ basic rates of pay. Locality pay will remain at 2013 levels." OPM's new pay tables are listed here: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2014/g...

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A budget deal--at workers' expense

Congress has passed, and the President is expected to sign, a bipartisan two-year budget agreement. The deal partly repeals some of the sequestration cuts, but requires increased pension contributions from federal employees hired on or after 1/1/2014. Those employees will have to pay 4.4% toward their pensions, but will not receive larger pensions as a result. Military retirees will also receive lower COLAs (cost-of-living adjustments) on their pensions until age 62. AFGE opposed these measures.

Cuts to federal worker income: past, present and future

Rep. Marcia Fudge introduced House Resolution 388, which summarizes the sacrifices federal workers have already made as a result of budget cutting. It also provides a comprehensive summary of new proposals that have been made to cut federal worker benefits, and opposes those cuts. A tab on the page also shows the list of current cosponsors to the bill. See http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-resolution/388/text

EPA back in business

EPA reopened its doors today. The agency is aiming for back pay to appear in the October 29 paycheck. Meanwhile, employees began to dive back into their in boxes and to confront the environmental challenges that don't disappear on their own.

Back to work ... ?

The National Journal's Matt Berman is reporting:

"The director of the Office of Management and Budget has issued a statement letting furloughed employees know it's time to get back to work. Tomorrow.
"'Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM's website for further updates.'"

House votes 285-144 to reopen government, extend debt limit

The President is expected to sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

Senate passes debt deal, votes to reopen government

The vote was 81-18.
The bill also includes back pay for federal employees.
It's up to the House now.
The names of those voting for the bill to reopen the government and extend the borrowing authority:

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