AFGE pushes for flextime at Labor Department

The American Federation of Government Employees is not happy with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's stance on flextime and such.
The American Federation of Government Employees is not happy with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's stance on flextime and such. (Megan M Guerriero/courtesy Of Afge Local 12)
By Al Kamen
Friday, April 23, 2010

Seemed only right that when the Group of 20 labor ministers gathered for their first-ever meeting at the Labor Department this week they would see a lunchtime "informational picket" of Secretary Hilda Solis's agency from its local union, the American Federation of Government Employees.

AFGE Local 12 was protesting that Solis had declined a union request to restore flextime working hours that had been in place from the Reagan administration through 2005, when they were reduced by the recent Bush administration.

"We understood that it was not going to be paradise" when the Obama administration took over, said Local 12 President Alex Bastani. "The Bush senior team at least gave out a few crumbs," he said, "we can't even get the crumbs these days. It does feel like [Bush II Secretary Elaine] Chao hasn't left."

The union also points to a letter from Barack Obama just before the election in which he said: "I believe that it's time we stopped talking about family values and start pursuing policies that truly value families, such as paid family leave, flexible work schedules, telework, with the federal government leading by example." (Well, in fairness, Obama was only a candidate when he wrote that.)

A department spokesman, in response, hailed what he called the department's "terrific flexplace program." That has never stopped, he said, and "we have agreed to expand it." It's a "very modern, very fair program," he added. The union and the agency are in contract negotiations and are trying to work out "ground rules for bargaining on a new contract," he said. "We're at an impasse over a few issues," but an independent panel is expected to resolve that, so "the process is moving along."

As most processes do.

Not actually atomic

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Suspicious Characteristics Mailing (Atomic Fireball

Hard Candy)

The Senate Post Office has recently seen an influx of flat envelopes containing "Atomic Fireball Hard Candy." The candies are addressed to Senate Offices. The flat envelopes have been irradiated, x-rayed, opened and tested by Senate Post Office employees and the contents have been cleared and deemed safe for delivery. However, it is possible some of the envelopes may have loose or broken candies enclosed.

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