July 27, 2009
Caroline Kelly
(202) 639-6419

Social Security Administration Commissioner Astrue Refuses to Grant Transit Benefits

WASHINGTON - Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Michael Astrue has struck again, this time withholding employees’ rights to transit benefits. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3615 filed a grievance against the SSA for failing to follow Presidential Executive Order 13150; requiring that a reasonable transit subsidy, to reimburse employees for commuting costs, be provided to qualified candidates in the National Capital area.

Commissioner Astrue has claimed there is no money to subsidize an increase in transit benefits. Yet recently he had no qualms with using taxpayer money to fund an elaborate management junket in Arizona. SSA executive officials attended a three-day “Management Tango” at the Arizona Biltmore, where they were treated to multiple receptions, dance and comedic performances, and even a trip to the local casino under the auspices of “training.” Even more astounding is that further SSA affairs are scheduled, despite the alleged lack of funds.

“It is ironic that in the face of budget cut concerns, Commissioner Astrue’s response to a need for a few thousand dollars to promote mass transit and the environment was to have a management tango at an Arizona resort for hundreds of thousands,” commented AFGE National President John Gage.

AFGE, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and AFL-CIO have had enough with Astrue’s actions and have called for his immediate removal from the SSA office.

“Commissioner Astrue has sent a clear message to the SSA rank and file employees—
that parties for management are more important than assisting employees with commuting to their jobs,” concluded Gage “It is long past time Commissioner Astrue step down.”

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