FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2006
Kurt Gallagher
(202) 639-6491
(media calls only)

AFGE Expands Win of Multi-Million Dollar Decision with Additional Money to Compensate DHS Employees for Unpaid Overtime

DHS employees or claimants should call 202 639-6425 with any questions about the case.

WASHINGTON–The American Federation of Government Employees today announced that it won additional money on behalf of hundreds of current and former employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to compensate employees for unpaid overtime. This decision follows a $20 million initial payment that AFGE secured from the agency in June of last year.

“Finally, DHS employees will be compensated for overtime worked, that until now was illegally denied by the agency,” said Joe Goldberg, AFGE assistant general counsel and the attorney who pursued the case.

This decision covers “suffer or permit” overtime, which is time worked that remains undocumented in agency records. A possible example of “suffer or permit” overtime is time spent while traveling to a temporary duty station or working through a so-called “off the clock” lunch.

The case initially was filed against the Immigration and Naturalization Service–which became part of ICE when DHS was created in 2002–11 years ago on behalf of thousands of INS employees who were not properly compensated for their overtime. After years of delaying tactics by the agency, arbitration hearings began in December 2003 and concluded in November 2004. The initial payment of $20 million, covering traditional overtime, was made in June 2005 following several months during which AFGE pressured DHS to honor its obligation to compensate the impacted employees.

“AFGE is the union of the Department of Homeland Security,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “AFGE will continue to fight on behalf of government employees, including employees of the Department of Homeland Security, regardless of bullying tactics or attempts to unjustly strip employees of their workplace rights.”

AFGE is leading a legal fight against DHS over proposed personnel changes (MaxHR) that the union says would impose subjective rules for pay raises and promotions, strip employees of whistleblower protections and illegally impede unions in the federal workplace. In August of last year, AFGE and four other unions won a decision against DHS that declared several major provisions of MaxHR to be illegal. In October 2005 the same judge reaffirmed her decision and declared that DHS could not implement any portion of its proposed personnel system until it was made consistent with the law.

INS FLSA Decision Jan 3, 2006

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