Welcome to the AFGE Spotlight! This new addition is a weekly roundup of the major actions AFGE has taken in the last week as captured by the press. Whether it’s a rally or a letter to Congress, what we do has an impact, so keep it up!
Here’s what happened the week of July 13-17:
Federal prisons in Texas, South Florida facing COVID-19 outbreaks: Federal prisons in North Texas and South Florida are experiencing alarming spikes in COVID-19 infections among inmates and staff. As of Thursday, July 16, 1,039 inmates at Federal Correctional Institution Seagoville in Dallas County – roughly 58% of the inmate population – have tested positive for the coronavirus, more than any other federal prison. Nine staff also have tested positive, according to BOP data. In South Florida, 93 inmates and 8 staff have tested positive at FCI Miami, while 140 inmates and 29 staff have tested positive at the two FCI Coleman facilities north of Tampa. Joe Rojas, the southeast regional vice president for AFGE’s Council of Prison Locals, told ABC News that the situation at Coleman is “dire.” Read the article.
SSA in no rush to reopen as employees successfully telework: While some federal agencies are pushing to reopen their offices, the Social Security Administration seems content to let most employees continue to work from home – which they have been doing successfully since the start of the pandemic. SSA employees have been more productive while teleworking than they were beforehand: average processing times for hearing decisions have improved from 491 days last May to 357 days this year, while employees handled 275,533 more calls to the national 800 number in May than they did during the same time last year. “There’s no need to bring people back. Our numbers agency-wide are the best they’ve been in a while,” AFGE Council 215 President Rich Couture told Federal News Network. Read the article.
Looming furlough of U.S. CIS workforce causes uncertainty: Nearly three-fourths of workers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be forced off the job without pay starting Aug. 3 unless Congress provides emergency funding to offset revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Unlike during a government shutdown, if these employees are furloughed, they will not receive back pay, meaning that these civilians and their families will face severe economic consequences in the midst of a global pandemic,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said during a press roundtable with national and local union leaders Tuesday, July 14. Employees are unsure whether or how the agency will be able to continue operations if the furlough takes effect. “You have a lot of people who just have a lot of uncertainty,” AFGE Local 2660 President Nicole Guess said. “We don’t know how long this is going to last, so the morale is very low.” Click here to view the roundtable.
More online: All of our coronavirus-related letters, press releases, guidance, and more can be found online at www.afge.org/coronavirus.