August 25, 2020

Brittany Holder
[email protected]

USCIS Decision to Cancel Furloughs Is Right Decision for Workers, Nation, AFGE Says

Categories: Washington, D.C., DHS, AFGE National President, Coronavirus

Union thanks workers, members of Congress for leading opposition against unpaid furloughs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s announcement by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that it will no longer furlough 13,400 employees at the end of the month is welcome news to workers, the American Federation of Government Employees said.

The furlough cancellation – announced in an email to employees from USCIS leadership – came after intense pressure from AFGE members as well as members of Congress. The agency said it was able to cancel the unpaid furloughs as a result of new efficiencies and additional fee revenue.

After the agency first proposed the furloughs in May, AFGE held numerous congressional meetings on behalf of the 14,500 USCIS employees it represents and hosted a virtual press conference that resulted in numerous articles featuring AFGE leadership and members discussing the negative impact furloughs would have on the United States.

AFGE also launched a national #SAVEUSCIS campaign, which generated more than 55,000 messages to members of Congress from AFGE members, union allies, and concerned citizens.

“This is a major win for the hardworking and essential employees at USCIS. Their work is critical to our democracy, and furloughing these workers would have made it impossible for them to do their jobs on behalf of the country,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. 

“We are grateful to members of Congress for their bipartisan support of these workers and their mission. While the immediate threat of furloughs has passed, we still need Congress to act to prevent similar funding challenges and ensure that the agency is able to operate without further threats to workers and their jobs,” Kelley said. 

“Since these furloughs were announced, we have worked around the clock to stop them for the sake of our members and our legal immigration system,” said Danielle Spooner, the President of AFGE CIS Council 119, which represents USCIS employees. “It took a village to secure this victory. This was never just about saving jobs; we avoided major blows to our economy, our military, and the sanctity of the immigration processes our country was founded upon. Those are things all Americans can agree on.” 

“Our members can rest easy tonight knowing their jobs are secure through the fiscal year, but our work is not finished,” said Ken Palinkas, Executive Vice President of AFGE CIS Council 119. “We are calling for long-term financial solutions from Congress in order to sustain the agency and increase the efficiency of pending cases and naturalization ceremonies. We will turn our attention to a long-term victory for the sake of our members and the critical work they do every day to keep our legal immigration system running smoothly.” 

Earlier this month, AFGE CIS Council 119 launched TV and digital ads in the nation’s capital and in key impacted and swing states across the country. The campaign, called Americans Agree, was created to draw attention to these furloughs and what they would mean to the American economy and immigration system.

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