(WASHINGTON) - The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents approximately 65 percent of Federal Protective Service employees, strongly urges Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) management to immediately desist in its plans to discontinue group retention allowances for FPS law enforcement personnel. AFGE also has asked the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to raise the issue with Paul Schneider, the nominee for undersecretary of management at a Dec. 6 hearing.
Retention pay for FPS officers first was established in 2002 as a way to stave off attrition rates. In a recent memo, ICE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management Theresa Bertucci stated that retention allowances would be discontinued as of Jan. 6, 2007. An AFGE request to meet with Bertucci was not answered.
“We are deeply concerned that Ms. Bertucci has refused to meet with union representatives on this issue,” said David Wright, president of AFGE Local 918, which represents some 1,000 of the approximately 1,400 FPS employees. “By cutting retention allowances, ICE has proven that it has no regard for FPS employees and little regard for the FPS mission.
“FPS officers are not afforded 6(c) retirement benefits, are subject to staffing shortages, and continue to have basic needs taken away,” Wright continued. “Retention pay was one of the few good things ICE provided its FPS officers. By taking it away, ICE has put the final nail in the coffin. FPS officers are going to leave the agency for local, state, or private law enforce ment opportunities, where they will be respected and honored.
“It is clear that ICE and its parent DHS are systematically trying to dismantle FPS, and AFGE is not going to let that happen,” Wright said.
FPS officers protect federal buildings and the employees within them. In addition, FPS assists in emergency situations, such as after Hurricane Katrina when FPS officers were among the first on the scene in New Orleans.