Federal employees will feel the results of the 2018 midterm elections in the next Congress where more legislators will understand and respect the work they do.
Many NTEU-endorsed candidates were successful in the Nov. 6 elections which will help set the stage in support of NTEU’s call for more investments in the federal workforce, rather than proposals to tear it down.
Because of the union’s sole focus on supporting candidates who will stand with federal employees the road to respect for the federal workforce is more assured and NTEU will have more allies to help play offense and defense on Capitol Hill. This will make a difference in efforts to fight pay freezes, retirement cuts and attacks on collective bargaining. And NTEU will have more power to pursue agency funding and staffing levels that make sure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs.
“I look forward to helping build an even broader coalition of support for federal employees in the new Congress, where employees’ contributions should be respected, not denigrated,” National President Tony Reardon said. “We’re going to change the subject from draining the swamp to honoring our civil service.”
There will also be more pressure on agency leaders to return to the bargaining table and negotiate with their employees in good faith, just as the law requires. NTEU will continue its efforts to block the administration’s anti-labor executive orders. And, conversations about improving government will include the voices of frontline federal workers and focus on training and resources instead of eliminating workplace rights and due process.
“We have a lot of work to do, but I genuinely believe we have more voices in Congress who will demand fair and equitable pay adjustments and employee appraisal systems, and fewer who just want to make it easier to unilaterally fire federal employees,” Reardon said.
NTEU members made a huge difference in the 2018 elections. They were educated, engaged and active. They asked questions of candidates, attended town hall meetings, made phone calls to each other to get out the vote and then showed up at the polls to support pro-federal employee candidates.
“Thanks to our members, our union got stronger on Nov. 6,” Reardon said. “Now it is time to harness that strength in a way that improves your workplace, your paycheck and your future.”
NTEU Returns to Court in the OPM Data Breach Lawsuit
NTEU continues to press ahead with its lawsuit to secure protection for members after sweeping data breaches were revealed in 2015 at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Earlier this month, the union presented oral arguments to an appeals court, making the case that OPM violated the constitutional right to informational
privacy of NTEU members implicated by the breaches. NTEU members entrusted their personal information to OPM with the expectation that it would be kept confidential and safe from unauthorized access.
Last fall, a district judge dismissed NTEU’s lawsuit, but the union remains committed to pursuing this case not only for members impacted — but for federal employees moving forward.
“Our members provide deeply personal information as a condition of their employments with the promise of confidentially,” said National President Tony Reardon. “OPM flagrantly disregarded that promise by failing to secure that information, and government reports show that OPM is still not doing enough to secure its systems from future hacks.”
In June 2015, OPM revealed two sweeping data breaches compromising the personal information of nearly 22 million current and former federal employees. Among the personal data left vulnerable were social security numbers, home addresses and employee fingerprints. For years leading up to the breaches, OPM’s own Inspector General issued multiple reports warning that the agency’s IT systems were susceptible to hacking. Those warnings were largely ignored.
Three years later, there are still serious concerns about OPM’s IT security, policies and procedures. Separate reports issued by OPM’s Inspector General and Government Accountability Office indicate that OPM’s response to the breach is incomplete and its systems are still at risk.
“OPM is continuing to make the same mistakes it has in the past, putting NTEU members at substantial risk of having their personal information stolen again,” said Reardon. “This is unacceptable to NTEU.”
In June, the Justice Department announced that two people had plead guilty to charges that in 2015 and 2016, they took out car loans under the names of victims of the OPM hack. Later in September, the White House suggested that Chinese hackers were behind the cyberattacks.
“The court’s role is not to guess what the hackers’ intentions are and what they plan to do,” said Reardon. “The risk
is there — our members have been sufficiently harmed and more damage could be done with the data in the future.”
One of the plaintiffs in NTEU’s lawsuit had a fraudulent tax return filed in his name, which led to hours trying to fix the issues and a months-long delay in getting a substantial tax refund. Among other relief, NTEU’s lawsuit asks the court to order OPM to take all appropriate steps to correct deficiencies in its IT security program and to provide lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection to all members affected by the breaches.
This lawsuit is only one part of NTEU’s comprehensive effort to protect members. NTEU worked closely with lawmakers for better protection for all those impacted by the massive breaches. Thanks to NTEU’s lobbying efforts, Congress mandated 10 years of credit monitoring with $5 million in identity theft protection — a far better time period than OPM first provided. Also, NTEU-supported legislation was recently reintroduced in Congress to give free lifetime coverage to data breach victims.
“NTEU has consistently pressed our lawsuit for three years now, advocating for our members at every turn,” said Reardon. “This is an important fight for our members and one we will continue to pursue, both in the court and in Congress.”
New ‘Telling Our Stories’ Campaign Showcases Federal Employees
PRESS RELEASE September 19, 2018
Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union today launched a new campaign to showcase the career men and women of the federal workforce explaining in their own words how their work benefits the American public.
Telling Our Stories is an ongoing social media campaign featuring video clips of federal employees talking about ways in which their jobs directly impact and enhance the lives of Americans in ways many citizens are unaware of.
“For too long, the federal workforce has been unfairly maligned as some nameless, faceless paper-pushing bureaucracy, and Telling Our Stories is designed to shatter that false image,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “These short, authentic messages from frontline federal employees are compelling testimonials about how they make our country safer, healthier and more prosperous.”
Campaign materials, including a constantly updated menu of new videos, are available at www.TheyWorkforUS.org, where there are also facts about the federal workforce and a guide to the consumer-friendly work done by agencies represented by NTEU.
“By clicking and sharing these messages over the coming weeks and months, the public will come to appreciate federal employees as ordinary, middle-class people with extraordinary jobs, who support their families in communities across the country,” Reardon said. “I believe this will help us all develop a deeper understanding of the value of our nonpartisan, merit-based civil service system.”
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments, so the Telling Our Stories videos reflect a wide variety of job titles, locations and duties. The first three videos launched today include a Customs and Border Protection import specialist who inspects and keeps international food shipments safe; a National Park Service historian who gives researchers and teachers easy access to important documents and classroom materials; and a tax examiner with the IRS who helps taxpayers navigate the process at tax time.
“The best part of this campaign is the real, down-to-Earth voices of people who love their jobs and are proud to serve,” Reardon said. “Our hope is that over the course of this campaign, the American people gain a better understanding of how the day-to-day work of federal employees improves their quality of life and strengthens our nation.”