AFGE Local 207 - Justice, Fraternity, Progress
posted April 8, 2011...
 
Please see the Important links page to view the attachment from Council 118 President Chris Crane to view the ICE Council Demand to Bargain notice...
 
posted April 8, 2011...
 
Local Presidents, Officers and Activists:
 
As you all know, a government shutdown seems more likely as every hour passes without resolution.As unhelpful as the following information may be, it is being sent to at least keep you all in the loop.
 
DHS and ICE are managing this situation horrifically; they don’t seem to know what they are doing and I don’t believe either took this matter seriously until starting late yesterday afternoon.  Last week, in an attempt to avoid the exact problems and lack of proper planning we are now experiencing, the Council filed a Demand to Bargain with the Agency (see attached).  ICE responded by saying it would not work with the Union.
 
Our Demand to Bargain has been filed and we hope that the rights of employees will be preserved as a result, even if that is through some type of post implementation bargaining in the event a shutdown does occur.  We were the first national council in the Union to file a Demand to Bargain, and only one other council has done so since. 
 
We are fighting to get information for the employees from the Agency regarding possible furloughs but have on had limited success.  However, the email we sent out earlier this week really does contain the majority of information that employees need to have at the onset.  Employees have submitted questions to the mailbox we created, but most questions have been specific to “how will ICE handle this situation…”  This of course requires us to get answers directly from ICE which is becoming increasingly more difficult.  Instead of giving us answers, ICE refers us to the OPM website which does not provide an adequate answer.
 
Last night the Council attended separate meetings via phone conference with DHS and ICE.  Again, most of it referred us to the OPM website or was so vague and generic it provided no useful information for anyone.  The first meeting was with DHS and the second with ICE.  On the few questions either would answer, both gave different answers adding to the confusion and illustrating just how poorly this situation is being managed.  
  
God help us all if DHS and ICE ever have to deal with a real national emergency.
 
Please contact a member of the Council if there is anything we have missed and can do to assist your locals.
 
In solidarity,
Chris Crane
President
National ICE Council 118 
 
posted March 4, 2011...
 
ERO employees:
 
Employees throughout the nation have voiced concerns regarding rumors of a possible furlough for ICE employees.
First and foremost, there is no imminent threat of furlough for ICE employees at this time. If you are hearing rumors that say otherwise please dismiss them. The rumors are not true. A continuing resolution was signed by the President of the United States funding the government until March 18, 2011. While March 18th is only fourteen days away, it does at least take a furlough off the table for the next two weeks. These are the only real facts; everything else is just speculation – even if you did hear it from a friend or a supervisor.
As rumor and uncertainly are our only real enemies at this point, the Council has requested that the Agency work with the Union in providing weekly updates to employees, even if that means telling you that the situation has not changed since the previous week. We understand that as employees you are only asking for the latest information, as this situation could affect your lives and that of your families. The Agency has agreed to work with the Union in providing information to employees as we move forward.
As I am sure everyone is already aware, just the suggestion that a furlough may take place requires agencies to begin planning on how the furlough will be conducted; the objective being to minimize the impact to the Agency’s mission and its employees.
The Union has requested that the planning for a possible furlough be made transparent to employees and that the Union be brought in at the pre-decisional level to work with the Agency in creating these plans. ICE has agreed to increased transparency for employees as well as pre-decisional involvement by the Union.
The Union held its first teleconference with the Agency on March 3, 2011 regarding these plans. As a starting point, the Union has requested that the Agency provide a list of the groups of employees that it anticipates would be affected if a furlough does take place. The Agency has requested until Tuesday, March 8, 2011 to compile that information and meet again with the Union. We will update you on the progress of that meeting shortly thereafter.
Again, please don’t pay attention to the rumors; we will do everything we can to keep you updated with the most factual information available.
 
Sincerely,
Chris Crane
President
National ICE Council
 
 
posted March 3, 2011...
 
All:
 
A quick follow up on possible furloughs:
 
1.      There is no imminent threat of ICE employees being furloughed as the continuing resolution (CR) was signed yesterday.
2.      This latest CR will extend until March, 18, 2011.
3.      In response to the Council letter sent to the Director on the night of March 1, the Agency has agreed to pre-decision involvement by the Union.
4.      We met briefly with the Agency today and have scheduled a second meeting for Tuesday.  We have asked the Agency to identify the employees that may be affected by a possible furlough and the Agency has stated that it needs at least until Tuesday to do so.
5.      The Council’s message to the Agency thus far has been simple, we need to start planning now and we need to be as transparent as humanly possible with employees. 
 
 Communication needs to be made at least weekly, even if it is to tell employees that the situation has not changed. As you all know, the Agency did respond to the Union request yesterday to send an email out to the employees regarding the furloughs.  Unfortunately it was not informative and may have done more harm than good.  The Council will be sending out an email (hopefully by Friday morning) to at least let our employees know the furlough is not imminent.If any of you have any suggestions or have witnessed any specific employee concerns in the field that you believe need to be addressed regarding the furloughs, please make those known to us so that we can try to address them. 
 
 As always, thank you for all that you do for our employees,
Chris CraneCouncil 118 ICE
 
posted September 30, 2010...
 
Regarding the Upgrade rumors -
 
They are just rumors.  If you don't hear anything officially announced, don't believe it.  Even if the Agency had a solid plan today, it could easily change 100 times before they were able to implement - money being the biggest factor.  As Bill pointed out, this Administration has changed nothing for us as a Union.  Our Obama appointed and AFGE supported Director (Morton) is nothing short of a Union buster.  But to make matters worse, republicans are promising to cut funding to federal employees, and are expected to take a lot of Congressional seats in the upcoming elections, if not control of Congress altogether.  I'm not trying to take any political "sides" here, as I am disappointed in all, but simply pointing out that a change in power within Congress could be yet another factor that changes everything for our upgrade efforts.  The Agency can make all of the plans it wants for upgrades, but if the money isn't there it simply won't happen.
 
The OIG employee discussed may have good intel, but that intel will be null and void the second any one of a hundred events occur that can change everything - losing funding being only one of them.  Bottom line, don't believe any rumors that you hear and please do your best in your offices to tell employees the same, "don't believe it unless it's announced officially."    The most responsible thing that we can do now as Union representatives is to spread the singular message of "don't believe the rumors," and stay clear of any other speculation.
 
The Agency has really been dragging its feet throughout the upgrade process and the Council has been at war with them on a daily basis to keep this thing moving forward.  I am hoping that we will have some concrete news about what comes next in the IEA/DO upgrade process very soon, as well as getting the DRA surveys started.  When I say "soon," I hope to see movement as soon as next week.
 
On a side note, great discussion on AFGE and other issues on these email strings.  Free and open discussion must continue to be the cornerstone of our Union - not the threats, intimidation and "gag-orders of the AFGE National President.
 
Thanks,
 
Chris Crane
ICE Council 118
 
posted September 30, 2010...
 
Local Presidents, Officers and Activists:
 
National President John Gage had another phone call with ICE Director John Morton yesterday afternoon and made yet another unilateral agreement with ICE which will negatively impact ICE employees and ICE Union representatives.
Gage committed ICE Union representatives to begin bargaining PBNDS starting on October 18, 2010 – basically two weeks from now.  Gage did so without discussing this with the Council and Locals, or even asking if we could put a bargaining team together and/or be prepared for bargaining in the next 2 weeks.  Gage requested no preparation time for our bargaining team, even though the Council had previously reached a hard fought agreement with the Agency to have ICE funded preparation time for our bargaining team (the Agency had to love getting out of that, I can hear them laughing at us now). 
Does it seem strange to anyone else that Gage (a Union President) would take away Agency authorized official time, travel, lodging and expenses from his own Union representatives, so that they would be unable to prepare for bargaining?  Yes, that is correct; our own Union did this to us, not the Agency. 
Folks, on September 30, 2010, the ballots will be counted in our Council elections and the trusteeship will be over shortly thereafter.  Enough said on that at this time.
For now, we all have to work together in succeeding on October 18.  I have full confidence in all of you and know that we can do just that.  I will update everyone as soon as we have a better understanding of the situation. 
I apologize for the delay in sending this message today.  I had hoped that by delaying this message for a few hours we would be able to get more information and provide a better update to you on putting our bargaining team together.  As of now, only one (1) person from our previous PBNDS bargaining team has been able to confirm availability for the 18.  As the team members just found out about this a few hours ago, they are trying to quickly check work schedules, discuss with family members, and make appropriate arrangements for children, etc. I anticipate we will be putting out a call for more volunteers tomorrow.      
Again, all we know at this time is that bargaining is set for October 18-28, 2010, and that we are approved for a 12 person bargaining team.  The Council is planning other actions in this matter but must keep those silent at this time as one person on our email list is forwarding all ICE emails to Gage and others within AFGE.
In solidarity,
Chris Crane
President
Council 118 ICE 
 
posted August 13, 2010...
 
Dear Members of the NEC and Federation:
 
National President John Gage and his Chief of Staff have issued what NP Gage himself calls a “gag-order” against ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Union representatives who have recently issued whistleblower disclosures to the American public as part of a “Vote of No Confidence” in ICE Director John Morton regarding what ICE employees believe to be corruption and gross mismanagement within the Agency, which presents a threat to employee and public safety and potentially national security.
 
NP Gage and his Chief of Staff have also threatened to remove members of the ICE Council if they discuss these whistleblower disclosures publicly.
  
If you attended the last AFGE National Convention, you may recall my statements before the delegation regarding how AFGE had refused to assist ICE employees at the onset of the H1N1 Pandemic – AFGE stating that it would “Offend the Obama Administration.
  
Now, the White House and the Director of ICE have called NP Gage complaining about the public disclosures made by the ICE Council and ICE Union Locals.  After calls from the White House and ICE Director were received by NP Gage, the gag-order was placed and threats made to remove members of the ICE Council.  Important to note, NP Gage took these actions before even knowing the issues stated in the vote of no confidence, or receiving a brief.  NP Gage and his Chief of Staff were told of the vote five weeks prior to the media release, but dismissed it and did not allow the ICE Council to brief him.
 
During a later phone conference regarding the vote, the gag-order and the threats, NP Gage ordered ICE Local Presidents and Officers of the ICE Council not to speak at any time during the phone conference.  ICE local presidents were outraged by NP Gage’s behavior and comments and a flurry of emails followed in which locals presented documents and videos as evidence alleging that NP Gage had made false statements during the phone conference regarding his previous knowledge of ICE issues and his reasoning for not supporting ICE Union representatives and employees.
 
ICE Union representatives allege that NP John Gage is covering up issues at ICE and retaliating against ICE whistleblowers to protect TSA and the Obama Administration.  These allegations of AFGE whistleblower retaliation as well as the AFGE gag-order have now leaked to the press.
 
Two days ago I told NP Gage that this situation could have serious implications for AFGE and AFGE’s attempts to gain TSA.  I told Gage I had commitments from ICE locals to stand down on speaking with the media or taking other actions, but that I needed him to address the real issues and work with the Council to help stabilize the situation.  NP Gage refused to address the issues of concern to the locals and stated he would not respond to what he called “threats.”  I can assure everyone that the only threats made thus far have been from NP Gage and his Chief of Staff.  The Council merely made an accurate account of the situation to NP Gage.
 
It is my understanding that while I was trying to calm matters, NP Gage took the first shot in the media war and publicly criticized ICE Union leaders in a press interview with a reporter – now the gas is on the fire.
  
It is also my understanding that discussions with the media by ICE locals began today and that a “Vote of No Confidence” in AFGE NP John Gage is being called for as well as pickets of the AFGE National office, to include media coverage, are planned by ICE locals to bring attention to what ICE Union leaders believe is a loss of leadership at AFGE leading to the retaliation against ICE whistleblowers as well as attempts to conceal information related to public safety.
 
Regardless of the issues prompting this, it is my opinion that NP Gage has handled this situation in an unprofessional, irrational and reckless manner that has placed the Federation in jeopardy.  If left unchecked, it is my fear that NP Gage will take all of AFGE down with him.
  
The rumor mill surrounding activities in the AFGE National Office involving alcohol abuse, hostile work environment, threats, etc., should be enough to raise concerns among the Federation that we have a problem in our National office.  Mismanagement and inappropriate behavior are things that we adamantly oppose in our own workplaces as Union representatives; we must make sure it’s not happening in our own house as well.
 
At ICE we have heard enough threats from AFGE regarding taking away our union rights.  Further threats will just worsen this situation as few still want to be a part of what they are witnessing from the National President of AFGE.  I am asking that the members of the National Executive Council, Council Presidents and other concerned members of the Federation step in to assist the ICE Council in preventing further damage to our Federation as a result of the situation at ICE, and to begin a review of the actions of our National President and his Chief of Staff.
 
As the President of the ICE Council, I stand behind our locals.  The Director of ICE will not communicate with the ICE Council in any way, and will only speak to John Gage – and John Gage supports this.  We have been cut-off from our Agency by our own Union.  Making matters worse, NP Gage takes the word of the ICE Director over ICE Union representatives in the field.  NP Gage dismisses matters of monumental importance within ICE, while similar or far less significant issues affecting other AFGE groups receive NP Gage’s full support.  Life and death matters for ICE employees are literally ignored.  When these urgent matters escalate or become public, NP Gage and his Chief of Staff claim they were never told – even when documented proof states otherwise.  This is irrational, highly suspicious and sometimes dangerous. 
 
I anticipate that NP Gage’s “gag-order” on the free speech of ICE AFGE members will include speaking to the NEC or other members of the Federation.  Likewise, as I am reporting information regarding our National President and his Chief of Staff to the NEC and Federation, I can only assume there will be retaliation in the form of removing me from the ICE Council.  Regardless, I will still make myself available to the NEC or others in the Federation who recognize the urgency of this situation with regard to the future of AFGE and wish to assist.
 
 
 
In Solidarity,
 
  
Chris Crane
President
 
posted February 3, 2010...Please see the arbitration notification on the Important links page.  This notification pertains to the CAP grievance filed at the National level.
 
posted November 10, 2009...
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE – Update FLSA Grievance The ICE Council is currently receiving a large volume of requests from bargaining unit employees (BUEs) regarding grievances and arbitrations which were started during the previous Council, but have not yet been resolved.  To be honest, since we did not handle these cases originally, we are not familiar with many of them.  However, we are diligently doing the research because we want affected employees to be aware of what is happening with those cases that affect them.Today’s employee update deals with a grievance filed on December 13, 2007 involving ICE DRO and FPS law enforcement officers (LEOs) receiving AUO for scheduled lunch breaks.  The grievance was limited to ICE LEOs because federal law provides that lunch periods are hours of work for federal LEOs who are FLSA non-exempt and receiving AUO, but does not provide similar provisions for other groups. It appears that after the parties where unable to settle the grievance in this matter, the previous ICE Council invoked arbitration, and retained the services of a respected law firm to handle the case.  In July of 2008, the law firm requested information from ICE to prepare the case for arbitration.To make a long story short, ICE has not provided the requested information to the law firm.  The law firm has made repeated requests to ICE to obtain the information needed to proceed with the case.  However, the Agency has engaged in legal procedures since July of 2008, which have prevented the case from going forward.  The following is a basic timeline showing the most significant events in this case. 
  • – The Law firm filed an information request with ICE requesting data needed to represent affected ICE employees during arbitration.  The law firm followed up with ICE on multiple occasions, but ICE would not provide the requested information.  
  • – The Law firm filed a Motion to Compel with the arbitrator requesting that ICE be ordered to provide the information needed to proceed with the case.
  • – A conference was held with the arbitrator regarding the Law Firms Motion to Compel ICE to provide the requested case information.
  • – The arbitrator issued a decision in regard to the Law firm’s Motion to Compel, ordering that ICE provide the requested information to the Law Firm.
  • – ICE filed a formal objection or “exception” to the arbitrator’s decision which had ordered ICE to provide the case information.  The Agency’s exception was filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).  Of course, this action by ICE again prevented the case from moving forward.
  • – The law firm filed an opposition to the exceptions filed by ICE in the case.                  
The Council was contacted last week by the lawyer handling the case who informed us that the Federal Labor Relations Authority has just dismissed the Agency’s exceptions, which upholds the arbitrator’s decision from April of 2009 ordering ICE to provide the requested case information.  This is very good news and we hope that it will mean that this case will finally begin moving forward.  We will keep you updated as this case progresses.  Please keep in mind that the next significant development may not take place for several months.The law firm has asked us to gather contact information for all of the affected employees in this case.  First, please review and answer the following questions to determine if you are a grievant in this case.   1)      Are you an ICE (FPS or DRO) Law Enforcement Officer?  If your answer is NO, you are not a grievant in this case.  Do not continue with this questionnaire.  If your answer is YES, proceed to question No. 2.2)      Are you certified for AUO and are you an FLSA non-exempt employee (do you receive FLSA pay)?  If your answer is NO, you are not a grievant in this case.  If your answer is YES, proceed to question No. 3.  3)      Have managers in your office been ordering FPS or DRO law enforcement officers to do the following:a.       Take a lunch break without  payb.      Take a lunch break and claim AUO as payment for that lunch breakc.       Take a 30 minute lunch break, and require employees to work an additional 30 minutes at the end of their shift to compensate for the 30 minute lunch break ** If a, b, or c applies to you, then you are probably a grievant in this case and should continue reading below.If, after answering the questionnaire, you believe that you are a grievant in this case, please answer the following questions, so that the Council can forward your information to the attorneys handling the case.Directions:1) Copy the questions listed below (IN BLUE).2) Hit the reply button, so that you respond directly to this e-mail. 3) Paste the copied questions into your response.4) Type your responses to the right of each question without deleting the question itself.Example:  Job Title - Deportation Officer5) When you have completed the questions, hit "send" and you’re done.  ICE FLSA LUNCH GRIEVANCEYour Name – Are you an FPS or DRO employee? – ICE Office where you work (Please provide full mailing address) –Job Title - Home Address – Government email address – Personal email address – Cell Phone number – Management Action against you:a) Forced to take lunch break without payb) Forced to claim AUO as compensation for lunch breakc) Forced to work additional 30 minutes at end of shift to compensate for lunch period
 
 
Date Management Action against you began-
 
 
Date Management Action against you ended (or is it ongoing?)-
 
 
We hope this information is helpful to you.  We will keep you posted as this case moves forward.
In solidarity,
 
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE
Patrick Remigio, President
Lorenzo Garza, Executive Vice President
 
 
 
posted November 10, 2009...
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE – Update No. 2 for Border Patrol IEAs
As some of you may know, the arbitrator who originally decided in favor of IEAs in the Border Patrol IEAs grievance, Mr. Thomas Angelo, was recently appointed by President Obama to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).  While this appointment will undoubtedly benefit federal employees throughout the U.S., many involved with the Border Patrol IEA case were concerned that the appointment would mean that Arbitrator Angelo would not maintain jurisdiction over the case.  A valid concern, as a new arbitrator could have an opinion of the case that is less favorable to the IEAs than that of Arbitrator Angelo.
AFGE attorneys have sought out Arbitrator Angelo in order to resolve these concerns, and have good news to report.  Arbitrator Thomas Angelo has maintained jurisdiction in this case for enforcement purposes, even though he has been appointed to the FSIP.  With Arbitrator Angelo’s record of issuing fair and just decisions in cases involving federal employees, this is definitely welcome news as this case now moves forward.
Additionally, AFGE has established an e-mail address specifically for this case.  The e-mail address is mymoney@afge.org.  At last count, the Council had received approximately 250 responses to our initial request for information from employees affected by this case.  The Council has already forwarded all of that information to the mymoney@afge.org address, so there is no need for you to duplicate that effort. 
We will keep you updated as future developments become available in this case.
In solidarity,
AFGE Council 118-ICE
 
posted October 16, 2009...
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE - CBP Pay Upgrade
 
All,
We received a large volume of e-mails yesterday from ICE employees regarding rumors that CBP Officers and Border Patrol Agents were given upgrades to GS-12 by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.  The Council contacted the Director of the ICE Office of Employee and Labor Relations (ELR) requesting that these rumors be verified.  Late on the afternoon of 10/15/2009, the Director confirmed that the rumors were true.
While the Director of ELR did verify that the upgrades will take place, he also specified that he could not yet provide any details.  We will keep you updated if any new information is provided by the Agency in the future.
Understanding that this matter required immediate attention, the Council sought sources in Washington, DC that we believe are credible enough to provide information on this matter that we can in good conscience provide to you.  It is important for you to understand that this information has not been provided by DHS or ICE.
First, sources report that the CBP Union was completely surprised by the announcement this week, and that the Union played no part in obtaining the upgrades.  Sources tell us that the Agency (DHS) acted completely on its own in implementing the upgrades.  This was an Agency initiative.  There is no information currently available that explains why the upgrades happened and why they happened now.
While we are also waiting for more concrete information in order to solidify our position on these upgrades, the Council’s early outlook on these developments is very positive.  Secretary Napolitano has clearly shown a desire to provide upgrades to DHS employees. 
With regard to the IEA upgrades, we are encouraging DRO employees to refrain from jumping to any negative conclusions.  While we can’t confirm anything at this time, employees must be open to the possibility that DHS is considering similar upgrades for ICE employees.  Remember, CBP employees and their union were caught off guard by their upgrades and received no advanced notice.  It is possible that Secretary Napolitano and DHS have similar plans for us that have not yet been announced.
On a positive note, the National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, John Gage, met with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on October 9, 2009.  This is a meeting that took several months to coordinate.  One of the topics discussed with Secretary Napolitano was the IEA Upgrade.  Due to President Gage’s schedule, the Council will not be able to follow up on the outcome of this meeting until next week.  Additionally, the ICE Council currently has a meeting scheduled with ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton next week, and the IEA upgrades will be a topic of discussion.  We will give you updates on these meetings as the information becomes available to us.
In closing, we would like to reiterate that we all need a lot more information before we can make any conclusions about how these upgrades will affect ICE employees.  Once we have all the facts, then we can make quality decisions about what we need to do next. 
In Solidarity,
 
Patrick Remigio, President
Lorenzo Garza, Executive Vice President
David Wright, FPS Vice President
Chris Crane, DRO Vice President
Tre Rebstock, Secretary / Treasurer
 
posted September 30, 2009...
 
Reforms to ICE's Detention System E-Mail...
 
Greetings ICE Local Presidents and Local Contacts,
On Thursday August 06, 2009 at approximately 9:00 AM EST an agency-wide email was sent via Department of Homeland Security email system titled, "Reforms to ICE’s Detention System." This email was signed by John Morton, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (email provided below). Prior to receiving this email, it was announced on CNN that the Assistant Secretary, John Morton, would implement a major reorganization within the Agency.
Unfortunately, the CNN report and the agency-wide email were the first notification the Union received regarding this major agency reorganization which will have an obvious impact on all of us. At present, management officials at all levels of the organization are in the process of reorganizing our working conditions without involving your Union. Obviously this change in working conditions without appropriate notice and an exercise of our bargaining rights is in violation of the current contract (Agreement 2000) and the Union will respond accordingly to ensure that contractual rights are preserved. We intend to seek redress through the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
Consequently, the Union is now asking for your immediate assistance in identifying specific examples of any changes or implementations that have already occurred in your area, regardless of how small you may think the change or implementation may be. These changes may involve contracting out, redistribution of workloads and responsibilities, or altering shifts to accommodate the restructured reorganization, to name but a few. For those that you identify, please provide specific information such as date of implementation, brief summary, and the adverse impact to the bargaining unit.
Time is of the essence in receiving this information from you because of the short response time to the FLRA. Please take the time to report back to the Council as soon as possible. In order to ensure that I hear from each of you, please provide a negative response if you have nothing to report. I would appreciate hearing from you by COB Friday, October 2, 2009.
In closing, please review the attached email carefully, canvas your locals for information and respond only with examples and comments directly related to the agency’s current reorganization.
In Solidarity,
Lorenzo Garza
Executive Vice President
AFGE Council 118 ICE
 
 
A Message from Assistant Secretary MortonTo all ICE employeesAugust 6, 2009Reforms to ICE’s Detention SystemI am pleased to announce several major reforms to ICE’s detention system.  These reforms are based on my observations and experiences starting 15 years ago with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, conversations with many knowledgeable headquarters and field employees in the Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO), including Deputy Director Mary Loiselle, Tim Moynihan, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Dr. Schriro’s experience and ongoing review of ICE’s immigration detention system.  These reforms will address the vast majority of complaints about our immigration detention system, while allowing ICE to maintain a significant, robust detention capacity to carry out serious immigration enforcement.The present immigration detention system is sprawling and heavily reliant on contracts with correctional facilities and private industry.  While ICE has over 32,000 detention beds at any given time, the beds are spread out in as many as 350 different facilities.  ICE employees do not run most of these.  Instead, the facilities are either jails operated by counties or detention centers operated by private contractors.  I believe our detention system can improve in many ways—including by increasingly relying on our own employees instead of contractors for more of the core operational decisions.  My goal is for these steps to lead us away from our present decentralized, jail-oriented approach to a system wholly designed for and based on ICE’s needs.  In particular, I intend to reform the system so that it no longer relies primarily on excess capacity in penal institutions.  In the future, ICE will house detainees in a set of facilities designed, located and operated for immigration detention purposes.  These same reforms will bring improved medical care, custodial conditions, fiscal prudence and ICE oversight. To that end, I am taking the following steps.   Hiring an expert in healthcare administration and an expert in detention management to staff the ODPP and support Dr. Schriro.Hiring a medical expert to provide an independent review of medical complaints and denials of requests for medical services.  Recruiting and hiring 23 ICE detention managers to work in DRO, supporting the Field Office Directors and stationed in 23 significant facilities.  These 23 DRO employees collectively will monitor conditions in facilities where more than 40 percent of ICE detainees are housed.  This will substantially increase direct federal oversight.  Establishing an Office of Detention Oversight (ODO) within the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).  OPR is independent of DRO and the ODPP and reports directly to the Assistant Secretary.  The ODO will be located in regional offices to ensure agents and personnel have more ready access to facilities to conduct routine and random inspections more frequently.  The ODO also will investigate detainee grievances in a neutral manner.    Forming two advisory groups of local and national organizations interested in ICE’s detention system.  These groups will provide feedback and input to the Assistant Secretary.  One will focus on general policies and practices, while the other will focus on detainee health care.Discontinuing use of family detention at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Texas. In place of housing families, we will propose that the Texas facility will be used solely as a female detention center. Presently, Hutto is used to detain families and low custody females. Detained families will now be housed at Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania.Please welcome ODPP Director Schriro as she undertakes the planning of a detention system designed to house ICE’s unique population.  Please also provide your full support to the Office of Detention Oversight within OPR and to DRO Acting Director Dave Venturella and Deputy Director Mary Loiselle, who will continue to have full operational supervision of the detention system.  I thank in advance all of the many employees in DRO who are involved in custody management for supporting these reforms and helping to make them a complete success.
John Morton,Assistant Secretary
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
 
 
posted September 30, 2009...
 
Please see the Important Links tab for grievances and other documents issued by Council 118 regarding the Overtime CAP, the Contracting out of Bargaining Unit eligible positions.  A 9-A Notice received by the Council regarding Tactical Teams has been posted under the Important Notices tab.
 
AFGE Local Presidents and ICE Council Contacts:
 
Please see the attached AFGE National Council 118-ICE "National Grievance"
on the Overtime CAP.  Attached is also a 5 USC 7114(b)(4) request regarding
the National Grievance on the Overtime CAP. 
 
The Council has had a great response to the email sent out on the DHS email
system to bargaining unit employees regarding violations of the Contract
referencing the Overtime CAP.  Please continue to encourage employees to
send to the Council any violations of Article 27 of Contract 2000.
 
You can now use the DHS email system to send information to the Council by
looking for "ICE AFGE NATIONAL COUNCIL 118" in the DHS global directory.
Please use common sense and caution, as this is an Agency based email and
you do not have the right to privacy when using this system.
 
In Solidarity,
 
PATRICK REMIGIO
 
posted September 30, 2009...
 
AFGE Local Presidents and ICE Council Contacts:
 
Please see the attached correspondence to Assistant Secretary John T. Morton
regarding violations of Article 54, "Contracting."  The attached letter to
Assistant Secretary Morton preceded the Councils most recent invite on
September 22, 2009 to a briefing on "Secure Communities" by ICE HQ.  In that
briefing, it was clearly understood by the Council that unit-work currently
performed by ICE bargaining unit LEO's and support staff is being contracted
out. 
 
I would like to note that the Council was not briefed by the Agency prior to
any decisions to contract out work currently performed by bargaining unit
employees; the Agency did not notify the Union of any site visits of
potential bidders; the Agency did not afford the Union the right to attend
such a site visit pursuant to Article 54 of the contract; and when the
Agency determined that unit-work will be contracted out, the Agency did not
notify the Union the opportunity to negotiate. 
 
The Union made it very clear to the Agency that a 9A notice is appropriate
in this situation, especially after a contract had already been procured and
signed (see attached "Contract 1st and 2nd page") by a Contracting Officer.
On September 23, 2009 the Agency served a 9A notice on Council 118 after the
Council filed an information request pursuant to 5 USC 7114(b)(4) regarding
contracting out unit-work performed by bargaining unit employees. 
 
The Union is currently in the processes of filing an Unfair Labor Practice.
Please forward all information to the Council, where the contracting out of
work has been established without bargaining or notification from the
Agency.
 
In Solidarity,
 
 
PATRICK REMIGIO
 
posted September 4, 2009...
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE – Unapproved/Unfunded Travel
The ICE Council recently received reports from employees and union representatives in the Miami AOR regarding ICE employees who were allegedly being forced to travel without approved/funded travel authorizations.  Employees reported that after returning from government travel the trips remained unfunded.  Employees were subsequently told by managers that the problem was created by a lack of funding within ICE.  Furthermore, employees were told that they would still be responsible for paying the credit card bills with their own money, and that ICE employees would be held accountable under their credit card agreements if they failed to make payment on their government credit card bills.
Outraged by these allegations, the ICE Council notified ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton on August 22, 2009 via e-mail.  The ICE Council stated to Assistant Secretary Morton that this type of activity was not only unacceptable, but also a violation of ICE policy and federal regulations.  The ICE Council asked the Assistant Secretary to ensure that all ICE employees affected be paid immediately and that the same employees be protected from any and all disciplinary actions, as failure to pay credit card bills could lead to suspension and/or removal.
On or about August 31, 2009, ICE issued a memorandum to all Field Office Directors stating that all ICE DRO employees are not to incur travel expenses without a written travel authorization, so that any expenses can be reimbursed in a timely manner after returning from travel.   
The ICE Council is now writing to all ICE bargaining unit employees to notify you of this newest development so that everyone fully understands that it is inappropriate for managers to order employees to travel without complying with regulatory requirements.  It is unacceptable for ICE employees to be directed to travel without proper authority and then be expected to pay for job related travel out of pocket.   It is further unthinkable that ICE employees would then be held accountable for an overdue credit card bill because the Agency failed to follow federal regulations.
While it is our sincere hope that this never happens again, we are advising that ICE bargaining unit employees use the following steps if directed to travel without a written travel authorization in the future:
1)     Follow all of your supervisor’s instructions.
2)     Direct your supervisor to the policy memorandum attached to this e-mail.
3)     If you feel comfortable asking questions then do so, but never become disrespectful or argumentative.  The goal is always to resolve the matter at the lowest possible level.
4)     If the matter is not resolved then wait until the supervisor has left the area and then make detailed notes regarding what was said to you.
5)     Immediately make the situation known to your local union representatives.
6)     Report the incident to the ICE Joint Intake Center at joint.intake@dhs.gov.  
7)     Report the incident to the ICE Council. We hope that you have found this representational information useful.Sincerely, AFGE Council 118-ICE
 
We hope that you have found this representational information useful.
Sincerely,
AFGE Council 118-ICE
 
 
posted September 1, 2009...
 
AFGE ICE Council 118-ICE – Overtime Cap
The ICE Council has received a large number of questions from around the nation regarding proper procedures to be followed by managers in restricting overtime assignments to employees nearing the annual statutory overtime cap.
It is the ICE Council’s position that the national contract is very clear on this point. The national contract clearly states that managers are not to restrict overtime assignments unless the employee is within $500.00 of the statutory cap on or after September 15
 
ARTICLE 27 - Overtime - (Other than Uncontrollable Overtime and LEA)G. Overtime Cap. Where the local parties do not have either an agreement or practice capping overtime earnings, management may restrict full participation in overtime assignments for the remainder of the overtime year by any employee whose projected overtime earnings as indicated on the Overtime Watch List Report (OT-732) at or after September 15th are within $500.00 of the statutory cap. Procedures for restricting full participation in overtime shall be bargained locally.
G. Overtime Cap. Where the local parties do not have either an agreement or practice capping overtime earnings, management may restrict full participation in overtime assignments for the remainder of the overtime year by any employee whose projected overtime earnings as indicated on the Overtime Watch List Report (OT-732) at or after September 15th are within $500.00 of the statutory cap. Procedures for restricting full participation in overtime shall be bargained locally.
With regard to the statements in Article 27 regarding local agreements, local bargaining and existing practices; the ICE Council advises the following:
In summary, the ICE Council is advising employees and local union leaders that it is a violation of the national contract to limit an employee’s overtime assignments before he/she has projected overtime earnings on or after September 15th that are within $500.00 of the statutory cap.
Please fill out the below survey and notify the ICE Council if your managers are not following these guidelines. We will not share your information with managers. .
1) Your Name:
2) Office Location:
3) Field Office:
4) Overtime Cut-off Amount: (Dollar amount used by managers to restrict overtime work. An amount higher than $500 would be a violation of the national contract)
5) Date of Restriction (When overtime assignments were restricted in conjunction with the statutory overtime cap. A date prior to September 15th would be a violation of the national contract)
6) Are supervisors in your area telling employees that they will be paid AUO for scheduled overtime work that has already been worked because the employees are over or nearing the statutory overtime cap? Yes or No
7) Are supervisors in your area telling employees that they will be paid AUO for future work that should be paid as scheduled overtime such as foreign escorts, etc? Yes or No
8) Local Agreement: Yes or No (Aresupervisors in your area claiming to have a local agreement with the local union regarding restricting overtime for the statutory overtime cap)
In Solidarity,
AFGE ICE Council 118-ICE
Pat Remigio, President
Lorenzo Garza, Executive Vice President
David Wright, Vice President, FPS
Chris Crane, Vice President, DRO
Tre Rebstock, Secretary/ Treasurer
 
posted September 1, 2009...
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE – Privacy Violations/Leave and Earnings Statements
 
It was brought to the attention of the ICE Council approximately two weeks ago that bargaining unit employees around the nation were being required to turn over Leave and Earnings Statements (LES’s) to supervisors, who claimed that it was mandatory for the employees to follow the directive for the purpose of tracking overtime pay for the annual overtime pay cap.  Employees also reported that they felt threatened when they attempted to ask questions of supervisors and/or refuse the supervisor’s orders.     
 
It is the position of the ICE Council that this is a Privacy Act violation.  In addition to containing many personal identifiers, LES’s also contain information regarding garnishments, alimony payments, child support, TSP donations, union dues, etc.  It is our opinion that you have the right to protect this information from supervisors and other employees who normally would not have access to this highly personal information.  Additionally, managers do have other ways to track the number of overtime hours you have worked. 
 
The ICE Council brought the matter to the attention of the ICE Office of Employee and Labor Relations, but unfortunately we were unable to resolve the matter.  The ICE Council filed a National Unfair Labor Practice on August 19, 2009 regarding this matter. The Council then contacted the ICE Privacy Office for assistance.  We are pleased to inform you that the matter was resolved within approximately 24 hours.  We have been told by the Agency that a letter has been sent to all Field Office Directors instructing them to discontinue this practice immediately.  Since that letter was reportedly sent out on August 21, 2009, we believe that sufficient time has passed for all ICE offices to be in full compliance with this directive.
 
The Council is advising that all bargaining unit employees continue to turn over Leave and Earnings Statements to supervisors who order them to do so.  However, we are also advising that employees contact the ICE Council immediately, as well as the ICE Privacy Office (ICEPrivacy@dhs.gov) and the ICE Joint Intake Center (joint.intake@dhs.gov). At this time, the Council is asking that only incidents occurring after today’s date (08/31/2009) be reported to the ICE Council.   However, we are also advising that employees contact the ICE Council immediately, as well as the ICE Privacy Office (ICEPrivacy@dhs.gov) and the ICE Joint Intake Center (joint.intake@dhs.gov). At this time, the Council is asking that only incidents occurring after today’s date (08/31/2009) be reported to the ICE Council.
 
We would like to say thank you to the ICE Privacy Office for their assistance in this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE  
Pat Remigio, President
Lorenzo Garza, Executive Vice President
David Wright, Vice President, FPS
Chris Crane, Vice President, DRO
Tre Rebstock, Secretary/Treasurer    
 
 
posted August 18, 2009...
 
AFGE ICE Council-118
 
 
 
Employee Alert – Orders to Change/Alter Official Government Pay Records
 
 
 
AFGE Council 118-ICE is receiving a large volume of complaints from around the nation involving overtime pay issues.  Yesterday we received a complaint that we found to be extremely disturbing.  However, employee reports indicate that this is happening frequently around the nation.  We have included an example below.
 
 
 
An employee worked what he believed would be compensated with scheduled Title 5 Overtime Pay (commonly referred to as 45 Act by ICE employees).  The employee filled out his time and attendance sheet to appropriately reflect the overtime hours worked.  After performing the work and submitting the official time card, the employee’s supervisor subsequently directed the employee to alter his Official Government Pay Records to reflect that no 45 ACT overtime was worked and instead record the work as AUO.  In some circumstances the supervisor has approved it verbally in advance, in this case the supervisor had approved the overtime in advance in WebTA.     
 
 
 
As a representational matter, we are taking the position that these directives are illegal and unethical on the part of management.  If an employee claims hours that were not actually worked, the employee is subject to disciplinary action up to and including removal from the federal service for falsification of official records; therefore, the unauthorized and illegal directive to change the time to delete the scheduled Title 5 Overtime Pay (again, ICE employees call 45 Act) is also illegal because it is considered a falsification because the employee is not authorized to reflect the actual time worked and compensation earned.  However, the misconduct is on the part of the supervisor and not the employee and must be addressed through the appropriate forum.
 
 
 
What should actually be occurring is that the employee should submit the time record to reflect the actual hours worked.  The supervisors can disapprove the overtime without a directive to change/alter official pay records.  The employee can then file a grievance regarding the disapproval and can claim payment for the overtime worked.
 
 
 
Remember, however, if you are directed to alter your pay records that you must “comply now and grieve later.”  Do not refuse to comply with the supervisor’s directive or you will be subjected to disciplinary action for refusing the directive.  Please comply with the order and contact a union representative immediately.  We are also recommending that you follow agency reporting requirements and contact the ICE Joint Intake Center at joint.intake@dhs.gov
 
 
 
The Council is scheduled to meet with Assistant Secretary Morton in the very near future and plans to raise the issue with him to demonstrate how ICE supervisors are forcing employees into complicity to falsify official records.
 
 
 
As always, the Council appreciates your interest and bringing this matter to our attention.  Without your e-mails, we would not hear about these nation-wide problems that continue to arise.
 
 
 
Please bear with us, however, as our e-mail volume is rapidly increasing as employees continue to report concerns to the Council.  We are attempting to resolve specific issues as quickly as possible and get the information back out to you so that you continue to be informed and educated on these issues.
 
 
 
In Solidarity,
 
 
 
 
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