Newsletter of


Representing SSA Field Office Employees in Oklahoma

September, 2003


Swearing in the newly elected officers. From Let to Right: OKC District Vice President Mitchell Edmondson, Moore District Vice President Magda Mashburn; Secretary-Treasurer Marie Penington; Executive Vice President Robert "Bob" Smith; President Ylita Edd; Election Committee Member Jan Harris; Election Committee Member Ralph de Juliis.



President Bush has proposed that, effective January 2004, the pay of civilian federal employees covered by the General Schedule (GS) will be increased, across-the-board by 1-1/2 percent with another 0.5 percent to locality pay as a result of the national emergency that has existed since Sept. 11, 2001, which now includes Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.


President Bush claimed that the full statutory civilian pay increase provided for under pay would threaten U.S. efforts against terrorism or force deep cuts in discretionary spending or federal employment. President Bush said that "Neither outcome is acceptable. Therefore, I have determined that a total pay increase of 2 percent would be appropriate for GS and certain other employees in January 2004."

President Bush also wrote, "I do not believe this decision will materially affect our ability to continue to attract and retain a quality federal workforce."

We will keep you advised of developments. The full text of the President’s message can be read at:


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In Remembrance

Newly re-elected EVP of Local 2505, Robert "Bob" Smith passed away on Friday, August 15. Born (9/26/45) and raised in Oklahoma, Bob, who was in the ROTC, after graduating from OU, served two years in the Army. After graduate school, he joined SSA in Illinois, in 1976. Almost immediately, he became an active steward in his Local. He continued to fight for employee rights in the Tulsa AFGE Local, after transferring to Tulsa because of his mothers’ failing health. He was instrumental in the merging into Local 2505 the several AFGE-SSA Locals representing each of the SSA’s Districts in Oklahoma. He served as the second President of the consolidated Local until he became Council 220’s Dallas Regional Vice President.

A strong and vigorous employee advocate, Bob’s litigation expertise resulted in the first of many successful "bona fide consideration" promotion cases. That victory was and is so significant, that it rates this special note! Bob’s desire for fairness and justice may have been the result of the discrimination he encountered growing up as a Native American (Creek) in Oklahoma.

Bob could tell wonderfully entertaining stories of his youth: His family having chickens in the back yard; noddling for catfish with his Dad and Uncle: They held him by his ankles so he could stick his hand in a hole in a creek bank. When the catfish bit him, they’d haul him and the catfish up. He had some gory stories of having to catch and kill hogs with knife and being "counseled" by his Dad and uncle to move faster so he wouldn’t get bitten on the leg next time! Bob was near-sighted. His Dad taught him how to shoot by putting a quarter in a tree limb crook and letting him keep the quarter IF he could shoot it. Bob said how disappointed he was that no merchant wanted to take a quarter with a hole in it; so, he learned to aim better and knick the edge. He had some hair-raising stories to tell about driving his motorcycle, in freezing temperatures from Illinois to Tulsa! He had some poignant but amusing stories of adulthood: coming home to find his soon-to-be-ex-wife having a bon-fire of all his Grateful Dead albums in the back yard.

Of course, being such a great story-teller, there is no way to know for certain, how much exaggeration he wove into his tales!

Bob is survived his wife, Young Hui, a son, a daughter and three sisters. His knowledge, expertise, friendship and companionship will be deeply missed.



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OFFICE VISITS are important! The Local has a backlog of offices which want us to visit. The Local’s first office visit was to McAlester. Bob Smith, Marie Penington, Ralph de Juliis and I visited because the employees were missing breaks, lunches and donating their time at the end of the day to close up. Management had restricted employees’ contractual rights to earn and accrue credit hours. Management would also comment to employees about how their attire was reflective of their desire for promotion?! Though, we will be making a follow up visit, the problems with breaks and lunches appear to be resolved. The manager also announcement that Fridays will be Jean Day; so, we don’t expect anymore comments that would indicate an unwritten dress code.

EDCS AND SSA’S NEW INTERVIEWING POLICY are causing stress in many offices. There is too much interviewing work and pressure on employees in all offices. If you have a chance to look at the NCSSMA (National Council of Social Security Management Associations) paper, entitled, In Search of a Cultural Revolution: Combating Stress and Burnout in SSA (see SOUNDS FAMILIAR? below) management believes that restrictions on flextime, credit hours, total control of awards, more supervisors and managers, a multi-tiered appraisal system, more freedom to fire employees is the cultural change which SSA needs.

HELLO…The light is on; but is anybody home?!

That was the culture before the first Executive Order permitting (Federal Section Labor Unions under President Kennedy back in the 60s before any of us starting working for Social Security). It didn’t work then; it won’t work now. Your Union is going to do its darnedest to prevent management from turning back the clock on your rights and benefits!


SHARNOFF PERFORMANCE AWARD ARBITRATION: The Union is still awaiting the FLRA's decision on SSA's exceptions to the arbitrator's award. On March 1, 2002, Arbitrator Sharnoff ordered a return to the extent possible to the status quo ante with respect to performance awards for FY 95. (The grievance was filed by the General Committee in February 1995). The Arbitrator also awarded interest to employees who were harmed by SSA's unilateral changes (i.e., only giving performance awards to employees with a performance rating of outstanding). The awards budget for bargaining unit employees that year was $ 29 million. Most of the money was paid as Special Act of Service Awards, not Performance Awards. The SAS Awards were far smaller than Performance Awards. SSA filed exceptions. The Union filed an opposition and is still waiting for the FLRA to make a decision.

SATURDAY CREDIT HOUR ARBITRATION: The arbitration case was sent to Council 220 attorney, Patti McGown, last year. It is still pending her review.

TE ARBITRATION / CR UPGRADE ARBITRATION: The grievance was filed in August, 2002. Arbitration was invoked in September, 2002. It was sent to Council 220 attorney, Patti McGowan in October, 2002 for review. In March, 2003, she declined to do the case. It was then sent to another law firm which Council 220 has on retainer. That firm also refused to take the case. It is now being developed by Council 220 Representative Kirk Bigelow, with Council 220 attorney McGowan assisting him.

CONVENTION REPORT: Both AFGE nationally and AFGE Council 220 raised their per capita assessments to Locals. That will result in our dues increasing next year.

Go to www.afge,org/Index.cfm?page=Convention for addition information about the AFGE National Convention.

APPOINTMENT OF ACTING LOCAL 2505 EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: I have appointed Ralph de Juliis as Acting Executive Vice President of our Local.

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As we come back from a long, holiday weekend, we need to remind ourselves how and why Labor Day came about.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

For more Labor Day History go to: http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm)

What has been the impact of Unions?

• Unionized workers wages are roughly 20% than non-unionized workers. When other benefits are included, the differential increases to about 28%.

• Unionized workers more likely to have employer-provided/paid health insurance and more likely to have that health-insurance continue into retirement.

• Unionized workers are more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.

• Unionized workers receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave (vacations and holidays).

• Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job.

For more about the contributions of the Labor Movement and Unions go to: http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/briefingpapers_bp143

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"Working in field offices and teleservice centers has been likened to being on a treadmill where the speed keeps getting turned up a notch and you can’t turn it off."

"The main problem is that…employees take their work home with them—that is, with their stress levels. They seem stressed out all the time and cannot seem to shake it even when not working."

"There is no balance between interviewing and adjudication time. The workloads are increasing simply because the employees have no time to clear what has been on their desks for days or weeks."

"Imagine doing a job where you could never feel in control and caught up; where you talked to people everyday who were distraught or angry; where you must absorb multiple policy changes, or systems problems and corrections daily and apply them when you barely have time to read them…"

"Simply reducing the goals and eliminating or scaling back the targets would go a long way in relieving stress for both management and our employees."

"Too often we are talked to and not given the opportunity to be listened to. We need to be included in decision making that impacts us."



"Some managers and supervisors are naturally employee-centered, but many are not. Training is needed to teach us these skills."

All of the above quotes are from the NCSSMA (National Council of Social Security Management Associations) paper, entitled, In Search of a Cultural Revolution: Combating Stress and Burnout in SSA. To view the full report, go to: http://ncssama.org/Files/HRAUG2003.pdf

What solution does the Management Association propose? "If we wish to change our culture and continue to succeed we must become employee-centered. Our primary focus must be on our most valuable asset—our employees. The current research tells us that we need to get to know each of our employees personally and let them know that we care about them as people, not just workers. We need to praise them frequently and recognize performance appropriately and consistently. We need to reward outstanding performance with promotions and opportunities and not tolerate sustained poor performance. We must involve employees in plans and decisions. We must actively listen to them and share information promptly and openly. We must be honest with them and celebrate successes."

Management certainly knows how to talk the talk. Your Union is there to make sure they WALK the walk…which is why we are doing office visits!





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PRESIDENT: YLITA EDD – Voice: (405) 605-3021; FAX: (405) 605-3020; E-mail: ylita.edd@ssa.gov

ACTING EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: RALPH de JULIIS – Voice: (918) 581-6300; FAX: (918) 581-6380; E-mail: ralph.dejuliis@ssa.gov or ralphdej@fullnet.net

SECRETARY-TREASURER: Marie Penington – Voice: (405) 969-2995; FAX: (405) 969-2995 [call first]; E-mail: mpenington@aol.com















http://www.afgec220.org http://www.aflcio.org http://eis.ba.ssa.gov/afge http://unionplus.org