AFGE Spotlight

Categories: The Insider

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 May 25-29:

Push to reopen agencies endangers workers: Bloomberg News reported Tuesday, May 26, that federal employees are receiving “confusing and often contradictory messages” about reopening worksites that have been largely closed since the coronavirus outbreak began. “Their lives shouldn’t be taken for granted, and that’s the way we feel right now,” AFGE President Everett Kelley told the outlet. “Agencies are trying to appease some in this hierarchy by saying, ‘OK we’re going to reopen,’ but the reality is it’s just not feasible.” Read the article.

EPA Council warns against speedy reopening: AFGE Council 238 President Gary Morton sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler on May 22 urging him to allow employees to continue working from home until the threat of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19 has passed. EPA informed employees last week that offices in Seattle, Atlanta, and Kansas were being prepped for reopening. “There is no justification to send us back into offices until EPA workers’ safety can be guaranteed,” Morton wrote. Read the letter.

AFGE urges action to prevent CIS worker furloughs: AFGE President Everett Kelley sent letters to Senate and House appropriators on Wednesday, May 27, urging Congress to approve $1.2 billion in additional funding for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. CIS is threatening to furlough nearly 11,000 employees – more than half of the entire workforce – beginning in July due to funding shortages it blames at least partially on the COVID-19 pandemic. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous negative impact on our nation’s economy, it is important that USCIS continue its capacity for administering legal immigration processes. Without this supplemental appropriation, this capacity will be profoundly undermined,” Kelley wrote.

AFGE presses USDA on lack of data on worker illnesses: AFGE President Everett Kelley sent a formal request to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, May 27, for all information regarding the number of positive COVID-19 cases at meat and poultry processing plants. Kelley wrote to Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Paul Kiecker on April 7, requesting that the agency engage with the union on all issues regarding the pandemic, but as of today has received no response. “In fact, newspaper reports suggest strongly that this Agency is attempting to conceal the number of infected employees within the plants,” Kelley wrote to Perdue.

VA workers continue protests against unsafe work conditions: AFGE members protested outside VA hospitals in Richmond, Va., and Gainesville, Fla., on Friday, May 22, to call attention to the unsafe conditions workers and patients are still facing due to the coronavirus, including lack of protective equipment and testing. Employees also have been denied hazardous duty pay and must use their own leave if they need to self-quarantine due to coming in contact with someone exposed to COVID-19.

More online: All of our coronavirus-related letters, press releases, guidance, and more can be found online at

Click here for a roundup of links to news articles that feature AFGE and/or the issues important to us.

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