Council 220 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that represents most Social Security employees is not a big fan of lame duck Commissioner Astrue. The Council's current newsletter includes a piece sharply criticizing Astrue. According to the union, Astrue promised during the confirmation process that he would have an "open door" for the AFGE but held only a couple of meetings with union representatives before breaking off all contacts. According to the union, Astrue seemed to be mad that the union had publicly criticized him. The union says that no only would Astrue not meet with its leaders, he would not respond to letters or acknowledge invitations to speak. The piece also criticizes Astrue for doing less than he could have to obtain an adequate budget for his agency:
Although the Commissioner testified before Congress regarding the impact of reduced resources on the ability of SSA to provide adequate services to the public, he has not aggressively addressed this issue with the public. The person in charge of SSA [Social Security Administration] should maintain a highly visible profile, demanding Congress provide the agency with sufficient dollars to provide the services the American public demands and deserves.
Since SSA is an Independent Agency, the Commissioner has a unique opportunity to communicate with the public the need for more resources to prevent office closings, to allow the public more face-to-face access to SSA employees and to provide assistance to the public for all their SSA/SSI issues.