Feb 18, 2011

Union Concerns Over Possible Furloughs

An e-mail to union members from the head of the union local that represents most Social Security employees:

From: Witold Skwierczynski
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:41 AM
Subject: Furloughs in SSA


I was orally informed by SSA labor relations yesterday that SSA intends to provide a notice in a day or 2 (i.e., today or tomorrow) to the Union regarding furloughs. I was also informed that the Agency had not yet decided on the methodology of the furlough (i.e., to close offices for a day a week, to close offices completely for a period of time, or to keep offices open with reduced staff due to employees being furloughed on a staggered basis). OLMER [Office of Labor-Management Relations?] could not answer any questions regarding the duration of any potential furlough. This is obviously speculative at the present time.

I have heard that SSA is having a high level management conference call today regarding the Agency’s furlough preparations. My suspicion is that they will be discussing the SSA furlough plan in the event of a government shutdown effective 3/5/11. I do not know if the Agency will declare any employees essential and force them to work without any guarantee of pay. In some past furloughs the Agency has closed all field offices. In other furloughs SSA has declared maintenance of benefit rolls as essential and kept skeleton staffs at work but such staff was instructed to take no new claims. In the 1995-96 furlough the Agency closed all field offices for the first 5 day furlough. They kept all field offices open during the 2nd 20 day furlough and declared field employees essential. Employees were called back from X-mas leave and forced to work without pay. When the furlough ended, Congress reimbursed all employees whether they worked or not.

The union and management will probably attempt to negotiate an agreement regarding furloughs in SSA during the week of February 28, 2010.

AFGE Council 220 is planning nationwide informational picketing at SSA facilities on March 2 to protest the House SSA budget for FY 11 which if enacted will likely result in furloughs of a month for SSA workers. We need our brothers and sisters in the other components to join us on March 2, 2011. I am receiving more and more reports of angry and concerned employees who want to express their dissent.

I’ll keep you informed of developments.

Witold Skwierczynski


AFGE National Council of SSA Field Operations Employees

AFGE Council 220

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