ARMY KEEPING SMOKING ROOMS




FSIP conducted an investigation and determined that this matter be resolved through written submissions with rebuttal statements.

RIA proposed that:

? The smoking rooms’ closing times would be staggered

? The Arsenal would inform employees of the changes through various media

? RIA would continue offering smoking cessation clinics, at no cost to the employees, through the Employee Assistance Program

? The Arsenal would reimburse employees’ personal expenses for doctor-prescribed smoking cessation medication once

? Counseling services would be provided through EAP, on an as needed basis

? RIA would maintain current outdoor smoking shelters

? The Arsenal would ensure outdoor smoking shelters for disabled personnel in areas where needed

? RIA would work with the unions to determine the need for additional outdoor smoking shelters

The unions countered with a proposal that the smoking rooms would remain open.


http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/1221-02.htm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 21, 2005
1:12 PM CONTACT: Jobs With Justice
Erica Smiley, Jobs with Justice (202) 213-2019 smiley@jwj.org

Wal-Mart Wins ‘Grinch of the Year’ for Second Year in a Row
Donald Rumsfeld Close Behind

WASHINGTON — December 21 — With 52% of the 13,134 votes cast, Wal-Mart won the 5th annual on-line ‘Grinch of the Year’ election sponsored by the national office of Jobs with Justice. Nominated by Wake-Up Wal-Mart, the company is criticized for leading the global race to the bottom; boosting profits for its executives on the backs of its employees through low wages, insufficient healthcare and discrimination.
“Given the competition from Donald Rumsfeld and Verizon Wireless, Wal-Mart should be extremely satisfied to have won the ‘Grinch of the Year’ award,” said Fred Azcarate, executive director of Jobs with Justice. “With no end in sight for their continued poor treatment of workers, the communities they live in, and the environment we suspect that they’ll go for a 3-peat next year.”
Donald Rumsfeld, the U. S. Secretary of Defense, came in second place with 24% of the votes. Rumsfeld was nominated by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) after he proposed to strip over 600,000 federal employees—men and women dedicated to serving their country—of their collective bargaining rights.
Verizon Wireless, nominated by the Communication Workers of America (CWA), came in third place with 16% of the vote, with the final 8% going to write-in candidates—President Bush receiving the bulk of the write-in votes.
The ‘Grinch of the Year’ awards began locally with Jobs with Justice Coalitions around the country highlighting the greedy grinch in their hometowns. That tradition has remained in many areas with Governor Mitch Daniels winning in Indiana after threatening to close 80% of the state’s social service offices and Ron Lohr of Lohr Distribution winning in St Louis, MO for permanently replacing their striking beer delivery drivers. Their drivers were striking to protect health care for their families and a reasonable workload for a good wage.
Jobs with Justice is a national campaign for workers’ rights. Around the country, local Jobs with Justice Coalitions unite labor, community, faith-based, and student organizations to build power for working people.
###


http://www.fednews-online.com/view_publication.aspx?publicationId=8732

COURT SETS CAP FOR MAXHR BRIEFS
12/22/2005
After months of uncertainty, the fate of the Department of Homeland Security’s MaxHR personnel system may soon be known.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set a Feb. 27 deadline for filing appeals in the ongoing case.

On Nov. 23, DHS filed a motion to expedite its appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer’s ruling that barred the Department from implementing its proposed personnel system. Within days, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union filed an opposition to the motion.

DHS had intended to begin implementing MaxHR’s performance management components on Aug. 15, before Collyer deemed sections of the personnel system illegal.

The Department then filed a motion in late August to narrow Collyer’s decision. NTEU and AFGE countered with a motion to block the DHS motion in early September.

On Sept. 9, DHS circulated an internal memo stating MaxHR’s performance-based pay components would be delayed up to 12 months.

DHS was slated to move headquarters, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, Science and Technology, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center employees into MaxHR’s pay-for-performance system by January 2006, but will not do so until January 2007. MaxHR’s initial pay changes have also been bumped from January 2007 to January 2008.

MaxHR’s pay-for-performance components are separate from the performance management components.


http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2005/12/21/build/nation/98-fema-changes.inc

FEMA made changes for publicity, notes say

Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Meeting notes, released Tuesday by a union representative for federal emergency workers, stated that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told employees that many changes planned after Hurricane Katrina were for publicity purposes.
Chertoff's spokesman firmly denied he ever made such comments.
The typed notes, purportedly taken by an unidentified official, said Chertoff told the employees the retooling of the Federal Emergency Management Agency "is partially a perception ploy to make outsiders feel like we've actually made changes for the better."
The notes were released by Leo Bosner, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees local that represents FEMA headquarters workers.
Bosner said he obtained the notes from another FEMA official, who he would not identify.
Russ Knocke, spokesman for Chertoff, said it was "categorically not the case" that Chertoff made those remarks.
Knocke said that improving disaster response "is one of the highest priorities we have," and added that Chertoff has repeatedly provided that message to Congress and other audiences. Knocke said he had not seen the notes.
Bosner, the union representative, said he was told the remarks were made in the past week. The union official said he understood the notes were not taken at the meeting where Chertoff spoke. Rather, they were taken at a second meeting, in which a FEMA official who heard Chertoff relayed those comments to another FEMA audience.
Other points in the notes:
-Chertoff believes that FEMA is not a response agency for disasters. "We essentially should be only doing recovery," the notes said.
-The Homeland Security agency has drafted a proposal to place a senior federal official or Coast Guard admiral in 17 major cities to handle disaster responses. "This position essentially pre-empts our relationship with the states and locals in terms of response and recovery," the notes said.
-"A question came up ... on whether FEMA could take over a state's functions if that state isn't able to provide basic functions like evacuation. The biggest issue that came up apparently was the legality question."
Meanwhile, Chertoff said Tuesday in a speech that the government may have to radically change FEMA.
Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, which battered Gulf Coast states over an eight-week period, stretched the agency "beyond the breaking point," Chertoff said in a public review of his department's 2005 performance.
"We will retool FEMA, maybe even radically, to increase our ability to deal with catastrophic events," he said in a 35-minute speech at George Washington University.
Chertoff offered no specifics for changing the Federal Emergency Management Agency but said FEMA employees must be given authority to cut through bureaucracy to assist disaster victims quickly.
His aides said changes will come early next year.
It was unclear whether any of the changes will require legislative action, or if Chertoff will move before Congress returns to Washington in late January. A special House inquiry of the government's response to Katrina, chaired by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., is expected to issue its findings by Feb. 15.
Additionally, the White House is completing its own review of federal preparations and response to Katrina, an extraordinarily powerful storm that hit Aug. 29. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that "certainly, some of the recommendations will be related to FEMA."
Homeland Security and FEMA were widely blamed for the government's sluggish response to Katrina, which left some victims without food, water and safe shelter for days. The criticism led to the resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown, who had limited disaster response experience.


http://www.borderlandnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051221/NEWS/512210324/1001

Hiring enforcement likely to get tougher

Louie Gilot
El Paso Times
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Raids of employers of undocumented immigrants are often high profile, but have become so infrequent that most undocumented workers work for years without a problem.

In September, authorities stopped 12 undocumented immigrants on their way to work at a construction site inside White Sands Missile Range. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle allegations that its cleaning contractors hired undocumented immigrants. None of the El Paso Wal-Marts were cited for hiring undocumented workers.

But these cases are exceptions.

During the past several years, the government's efforts to confront illegal hirings have been "a relatively low priority," according to a report released in August by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Work-site arrests were down nationwide from 2,849 in 1999 to 445 in 2003. In 1999, 417 civil notices of intent to fine employers for hiring undocumented workers were issued, not counting civil settlements; in 2003, there were just four.

An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and their American employers usually go unbothered.

Mariana Ortiz's husband, for instance, has worked without immigration papers for an El Paso construction company. Ortiz, a resident of Clint, said her husband's employer, the employer's son and two employees are the only ones with work permits. The remaining eight workers are undocumented.

"His boss knows. They all know," Ortiz said. "They know he knows the work, and there is so much need for workers that they accept him."

In El Paso, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa did not release a specific number of work-site investigations but said, "we haven't had many."

That may be due in part to employees using false documents, making it harder for employers to be held accountable.

That may be changing soon.

Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a controversial immigration bill, HR 4437, that would require the nation's 8.4 million employers to contact a nationwide verification system by phone or through the Internet to ensure that a job applicant's Social Security number matches one on file. Employers would also have to check existing employees.

The bill would also increase minimum penalties for employers to $5,000 from $250 for the first offense. The fine would rise into the tens of thousands of dollars for subsequent offenses.

President Bush had called for the stepping up of work-site enforcement during his visit to El Paso earlier this month.

"Our employers in America have an obligation not to hire illegal immigrants," Bush said. "Many of those immigrants, by the way, use forged documents. And so we've got a computer system up and running to enable employers to be able to determine whether or not the documents they're being presented are fake or not. We're also increasing the number of agents that will be working in the internal part of the country to find those who've broken the law and bring them to justice."

A pilot program using the database and involving 3,600 volunteer businesses is under way.

But neither the Border Patrol union nor the business community is satisfied with the change.

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the bill leaves work-site enforcement "just as open-ended as before."

"All you have to do is match the name and the (social security) number. All you have to have is a phony ID. There is nothing in the bill about checking the legitimacy of IDs," he said.

Employers, who overall support a guest-worker program, said it is unfair to place the burden of enforcing immigration laws on them.

"The El Paso Association of Builders opposes the bill's increased paperwork requirements and stiffer penalties that would be particularly burdensome for many small or medium-sized builders. Additionally, this would be another unfunded mandate from the federal government to employers along the border," said Sandra Mead, executive vice president of the association.

The bill is expected to go through the Senate early next year.


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