Oppose HR 1160

Oppose HR 1160

See the letter sent by President Hart to all Representatives regarding HR1180, the inappropriately named Working Families Flexibility Act.

The legislation would weaken overtime protection for workers. The MTD strongly opposes the bill and asks all House members to oppose the legislation.

Federal Workers Alliance Unions Urge Congress to Oppose HR 1364

Federal Workers Alliance Unions Urge Congress to Oppose HR 1364

The Federal Workers Alliance (FWA), coalition of labor unions representing more than 300,000 federal workers sent sent a letter to Congress this week urging Representatives to vote no on the Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (HR1364). In all, 16 unions signed on to the letter.

The legislation aimed to withhold service credit hours towards retirement from employees who work 80 percent or more in official time duty status. It also outlaws recruitment, retention and relocation funding for the same employees.

Labor leaders believe that the bill unfairly targets the financial security of individual federal employees for their lawful service to their colleagues and their agencies.

See the full text of the letter below or download a copy here.

March 24, 2017

Dear Representative:

The undersigned unions of the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA), collectively representing more than 300,000 federal workers, urge you to VOTE NO on the Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1364).  This bill passed out of committee under false pretenses through a series of serious mischaracterizations about federal official time use, and what H.R. 1364 will prevent and provide.

In summary, this bill targets individual federal workers (and their families) who have done nothing more than perform the lawful duties of their jobs, under the supervision of agency management representatives.  The bill withholds service credit hours toward retirement from employees who work 80% or more in official time duty status. It also outlaws recruitment, retention and relocation funding for the same employees.

Most reprehensively, this bill retroactively denies employees their retirement service credit hours for time already worked if they retire on or after October 1, 2017.  This provision serves no purpose other than to force certain employees who perform representational work into retirement or risk losing months or years of retirement service credit hours for doing nothing other than their lawful duties.

We would like you to understand the facts about H.R. 1364 and official time:

Official time is not “union time.”  Activities such as political and internal union business are already prohibited (e.g. the Hatch Act affords no exceptions for unions).

  • Official time is used to address important workplace concerns including issues regarding safety, efficiency, mission effectiveness, employee engagement, and support to management to implement initiatives.
  • Official time is used to advise and represent federal employees on personnel matters often saving the agency time and money by avoiding costly litigation.
  • Official time is allotted through communications with agency representatives to ensure it is used carefully and in a way that benefits the workforce and the agency mission.
  • This bill cannot stand on its own merits. That is why we believe its supporters chose to fabricate problems with the official time process and then attempt to institute false solutions that will punish federal workers and their families.

Official time is a beneficial workforce practice.  H.R.1364 falsely depicts this longstanding, important workplace process as illegitimate.  The bill’s main goal is to target the financial security of individual federal employees for their lawful service to their colleagues and their agencies.

At a time when the checks and balances of the government are especially valuable and important tools, H.R. 1364 will discourage employees who wish to perform the important services  provided using official time, which has been shown to be of significant value to agencies and civil service employees and encourages transparency and accountability in government.

Again, the undersigned unions of the FWA ask you to VOTE NO on H.R. 1364, the Official Time Reform Act of 2017.

Thank you for your review of this issue and supporting this request.


American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Federal Education Association/National Education Association (FEA/NEA)
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE)
International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots (MM&P)
Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO (MTD)
National Association of Government Employees, SEIU
National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE)
Overseas Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS)
Seafarers International Union/NMU (SIU)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)
SPORT Air Traffic Controllers Organization (SATCO)

House approves bill aimed to help sick Hanford workers

House approves bill aimed to help sick Hanford workers

From KING 5

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Members of the Washington state House of Representatives approved HB 1723 Thursday afternoon, which would help sick Hanford workers get their worker compensation claims approved.

The vote was 69 to 29, and now the matter goes to the Senate.

Prior to the vote, bill sponsor Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, urged his fellow House members to support the measure.

“I would hope that all of us would vote yes. Send a resounding emphasis to the Department of Energy as well as the Hanford contractors that this state backs the Hanford workers and wants to make sure they go home healthy and those who’ve been made ill (at the site) do get the adequate medical care,” said Haler.

HB 1723 aimed to help workers diagnosed with certain illnesses get the care and compensation they need. It would grant a presumption of occupational illness for Hanford workers, similar to what the legislature granted to firefighters in 1987. The illnesses included for Hanford workers include respiratory disease, heart problems experienced after an exposure to toxic chemicals, neurological diseases, such as toxic encephalopathy (occupational induced dementia), and certain cancers.

Seattle shipyard looks to expand dry docks

Seattle shipyard looks to expand dry docks

From KING 5 News

SEATTLE – The shipyard that boasts the largest dry dock in Puget Sound, which services Washington state ferries, is looking to expand.

A dry dock is like a floating elevator that lifts ships up out of the water for repairs. The dry dock at Vigor Industrial’s shipyard on Harbor Island offers a space 560 feet long by 95 feet wide, but one in that size range is no longer considered enough.

Like a quasi-submarine, a dry dock partially sinks, allowing a vessel to be floated in, then raised up as water is pumped out, so the bottom and things like propellers, propeller shafts, and valves can be exposed, inspected, and worked on.

Once known as Todd Shipyard, Vigor both builds vessels and repairs them. Currently, the yard is constructing the third and fourth Olympic class 144 car capacity boats for Washington state’s ferry system.  As it is, the fourth ferry is the final new boat on order. Further orders from the state will depend on an upcoming strategic plan review, which could set a course for future ferry construction.


Hundreds of SF Shipyard Jobs Saved — For Now

Hundreds of SF Shipyard Jobs Saved — For Now

Photo: Lance Iversen, The Chronicle

Reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly 250 industrial jobs at Pier 70 — some of the last such jobs on the largely gentrified San Francisco waterfront — were at least temporarily spared Wednesday after a dry dock operator agreed to keep the shipyard open for 90 days while it works out a legal dispute with the company that previously ran the facility.

Puglia Engineering, which took over the shipyard lease in January from longtime operator BAE Systems, agreed to a 90-day interim deal with the Port of San Francisco that will give both parties a window to hammer out a plan to get the money-losing dry dock back on solid footing.

It’s not going to be easy. Two weeks ago, Puglia, a relatively small ship repair business based in Washington state, filed a lawsuit alleging that BAE had misled it into thinking that the two dry docks at Pier 70 — one that services cruise ships and one that handles smaller vessels — were “well-maintained and could be put to immediate use.”

Instead, Puglia said, it discovered the smaller of the two dry docks, known as Eureka, had “deteriorated to an extent that it would cost $9 million” to render operational. In addition, Puglia’s lawsuit claims that an additional $12 million in dredging is needed just to be able to ensure that vessels could get into the dry docks. Last week, Puglia filed a notice of imminent closure of the shipyard with state labor regulators.

In total, according to the Puglia lawsuit, it would cost “$24 million in 2017 to get the facility to the condition which had been represented it would be from the beginning.”

BAE Systems, a publicly traded multinational corporation with a market capitalization of $25 billion, counters that Puglia knew exactly what it was getting when it took over the dry dock. Puglia paid $1 to take over BAE’s lease with the port, while assuming $36 million in pension liabilities.

In a cross complaint, BAE called Puglia a “sophisticated buyer” that spent more than a year conducting its own “due diligence of the business and its assets.”

BAE quoted a letter from Puglia CFO Scott Hendrickson stating that “no matter how I look at it, the S.F. site is slated to lose a lot of money in 2017 and may have lost money in 2016 from what it looks like.” Hendrickson also stated that the dry docks and equipment are in “very poor shape and will require heavy investment going forward to keep the site viable and operating.”

The stakes are high for the Port of San Francisco, which has been working to expand maritime work on the waterfront. While San Francisco has been losing shipping business to Oakland and other West Coast cities for decades, last summer there was a bit of good news as the port reached a deal with Pasha Automotive Services to import as many as 150,000 automobiles a year into Pier 80.

“Ship repair is incredibly important to the port’s maritime portfolio,” said Port Director Elaine Forbes. “It’s been here 100 years, and we aim to keep it in San Francisco.”

While BAE’s cruise ship repair business at Pier 70 was strong for most of the past decade, revenue started sinking in 2015 when a bigger $40 million dry dock opened in Portland, Ore. “We knew there was trouble, they were telling us there was trouble,” said Forbes. “It’s a competitive market, and any time a new yard opens the dynamics change.”

When BAE decided to cut its losses, the port was hopeful that Puglia, a family-owned business that had 125 employees before taking over Pier 70 and specializes in repairing smaller vessels for the Navy and Coast Guard, might diversify the pier’s revenue streams. That could still happen — assuming it can get the Eureka dock back in working order.

Peter Blake, who heads up General Engineering, a 50-year-old San Francisco based ship repair business, was not optimistic about the shipyard bouncing back.

“This sounds like the death knell for the shipyard in San Francisco,” he said. “All my life those jobs have been there — high-paying, union, blue-collar jobs. Once they are gone, they will never come back.”

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com

Twitter: @sfjkdineen