Thanks to AFGE Local 3354, many GS Program Technicians (PTs) employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will soon eligible to apply for a Key Program Technician position within the Agency affording them upgrade potential from a GS-7 to GS-8. The upcoming Key PT advertisements for GS technicians partly stemmed from meetings between the local and USDA leaders in Washington, D.C. last year.
The advertisement of GS Key PT positions could potentially upgrade approximately 100 GS PT’s nationwide. The local has also been seeking upgrades for GS-PTs in USDA’s Rural Development.
GS-PTs’ duties have expanded over the years due to major changes in agricultural legislation and a massive reduction of employees. With many PT’s serving producers in multiple counties, they are required to take on additional complex responsibilities with many serving as agency experts in Rural Development and FSA loan programs. Currently, GS-PT’s pay grade is capped at GS-7 yet their job descriptions and classification have not been updated in years. In addition, many county government CO-PTs who work side by side with their federal counterparts have already been afforded upgrades to the CO-8 pay level.
AFGE Local 3354 has had beneficial meetings with USDA Agency leaders to address this disparity. Initially, the local’s request was to look at upgrades for GS-PTs in its bargaining unit in Oklahoma, but we are very happy that the Agency has announced the Key PT 8 positions will be available to both GS and CO program technicians allowing federal PT’s nationwide an opportunity for advancement within the Agency.
“We have great relationships with our agency heads and we have good people who understand the process and stand strong with those arguments,” said Local 3354 Executive Vice President Wilbert Grant.
The local also credits AFGE National Office for this success. The National Office helped prep the local for the meetings with USDA officials and turned their handouts into professional-looking booklets.
“The help that you gave us at the National Office was tremendous because it made us look very professional. I believe one of the things that they said was that we were very professional, very prepared, and they did like the presentation,” Grant said.
Grant was one of the four local officials that met with USDA leaders. Three others were Local President Jose Ramirez, Unit Vice President, Wil Grant, Steward Melissa Cook, and Steward Wendy Ink.