New DHS Council Must Include Frontline Employees The new DHS Law Enforcement Coordination Council announced last week must include frontline employees, NTEU President Tony Reardon told DHS Secretary Mayorkas in a letter he sent on Thursday.
The LECC was created to evaluate and respond to emerging law enforcement challenges and opportunities, comprehensively assess potential policy changes, facilitate information sharing, and promote best practices.
“No one in the Department could know or understand the real and evolving challenges facing law enforcement personnel better than those who are boots-on-ground performing the work,” Reardon wrote.
The LECC will be reviewing use of force policies at DHS components, as well as law enforcement training techniques.
“Any meaningful policies and best practices cannot be established from only analyzing high-level reports, law enforcement statistics, and caselaw, but must include real and forthcoming input from frontline employees,” Reardon wrote. NTEU believes that CBP’s participation in the LECC should not be limited to agency leadership and must include employees in the OFO bargaining unit.
Vaccine Policy FAQs Updated NTEU is in regular contact with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force to make sure employee voices are heard as the administration continuously updates its guidance regarding the vaccination policy for the federal workforce.
After the latest briefing, NTEU updated our frequently asked questions to include information about vaccine requirements for those who have previously had COVID-19 or have taken antibody tests, as well as disciplinary procedures for those who refuse to get vaccinatedand do not have an approved reasonable accommodation or one in progress.
The administration's progressive discipline guidance recommends counseling for those who refuse vaccination and do not qualify for a reasonable accommodation. If the counseling is unsuccessful, employees may be suspended without pay for up to 14 days, followed by removal from service. The Task Force says agencies may initiate the enforcement process as soon as Nov. 9 for employees who have not received the required vaccination dosage by Nov. 8 and who do not have an approved reasonable accommodation or a request for one in progress.
Importantly, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance on discipline already reflects NTEU’s influence. Based on the union’s input, the guidance provides employees two weeks to take initial steps to comply with the mandate after the reasonable accommodation request is denied. NTEU will continue its discussions with the administration and CBP to protect employee due process rights and ensure the mandate is enforced fairly and equitably.
User Fee Shortfall Addressed in Continuing Resolution The temporary spending bill signed into law Sept. 30 to maintain government funding and avoid a shutdown also includes an important provision to maintain CBP OFO staffing despite a funding shortfall in user fee revenue. NTEU had been urging Congress to address the user fee funding shortfall caused by the pandemic which threatened roughly 8,000 CBP Officer positions and 2,400 Agriculture Specialists funded by the fees.
The temporary spending bill, which funds government agencies through Dec. 3, also includes a provision requiring the administration to apportion funds as necessary to avoid furloughs of federal employees.
CBP Reports Workforce Vaccination Rates More than 70 percent of all CBP employees (including supervisors and frontline employees from OFO and BP) have provided the agency with their COVID-19 vaccination status. Of those who registered with the agency’s Vaccine Status System, 80 percent, or 34,901 employees, say they were fully vaccinated by Sept. 21. DHS Chief Human Capital Officer Angie Bailey testified to Congress last week that 65 percent of the overall DHS workforce has already been vaccinated.
NTEU’s Mission: To organize federal employees to work together to ensure that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect. The NTEU CBP Update is a periodic electronic newsletter published by the National Treasury Employees Union for NTEU members at CBP.
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