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Stop Betraying Our Veterans

 A Message from the American Federation of Government Employees

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is conducting a massive downgrade of low wage positions that will adversely impact thousands of disabled veterans working for the VA, and it also threatens the very health care and benefits services that veterans depend on.

 On February  12, 2013, the VA notified all its employees that 13,000 jobs would be “reclassified”.  Most of the employees in these positions work in low wage positions, including housekeepers, police officers, and medical supply technicians. A very large number of veterans work in these targeted positions, and were hired as service-connected disabled veterans. For example:

  • Housekeepers: Majority of the employees are Veterans.
  • Police Officers: 87% are veterans;  22% are service-connected disabled veterans
  • Biomed Technicians: 79.5% are veterans; 21% are service-connected disabled veterans
  • Patient Support Assistants: 42% are veterans; 18% are service-connected disabled veterans
  • Claims Assistants: 56.8% are veterans; 17.8% are service-connected disabled veterans

During this vicious campaign, which the VA initiated over two years ago, AFGE has been denied crucial information about the process, and the VA has lied about essential information it did provide.   VA claims that OPM is forcing the Department to comply with “classification” decisions on individual cases, some of which are over twenty years old! There is absolutely NO requirement for VA to follow these decisions.

 What is the VA’s real motivation behind these downgrades?  To reduce its budget on the back of its most vulnerable employees, including wounded warriors who take great pride in serving veterans as VA employees.

 VA continues to maintain that no worker will lose pay. This is flat out NOT TRUE. After two years of saved pay (required by federal law), downgraded VA workers will work at a lower pay rate and grade for the rest of their VA careers, AND their retirement income will be permanently reduced also.

 VA downgrades will also weaken crucial services provided to veterans. Biomedical technicians who repair medical equipment will have little incentive to stay at the VA or train for additional job skills, and VA police officers who are required to take special training to deal with violence at hospitals will seek employment at other federal agencies offering higher grades.  VHA and VBA claims assistants are also targeted for downgrades; they play a crucial role in maintaining medical records and claims files.

 We think it’s cruel and wasteful to allow VA to spend huge sums of Congressional appropriations on classification experts and outside consultants in order to shrink its budget on the back of low wage, disabled veterans and minorities.  Therefore, we are asking Congress to enact a moratorium that prohibits the VA from spending another dollar on downgrades until Congress has the chance to investigate the real story behind the VA’s misrepresentations.

 VA must stop the attacks on its low wage, veteran workforce and their veteran patients. It is time for the VA to stop betraying our veterans and tell Congress, veterans’ groups and the public the truth.



 Greetings members of AFGE Local 331, I cannot stress enough the importance of the need for your participation.  The attacks on federal employees are very real and coming at us in rapid speed.  We need to mobilize our members as quickly as possible, and we need as many people as possible to contact your representatives. We are providing you with phone scripts to assist you on what to say. We are extremely interested in calls to representative ANDREW P. HARRIS, (Republican), U.S. Representative, 1st Congressional District (Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester & Somerset counties; & parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore & Harford counties), Maryland and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett  

2412 Rayburn House Office Building,Washington, D.C. 20515-2006, Phone Number: 202-225-2721   Fax Number: 202-225-2193

  • The Fight Back News has been approved by the General Counsel’s office for worksite distribution with the caveat that it cannot be reproduced or circulated on duty time, using government equipment or government resources.
  • The General Counsel’s Office has set no restrictions on the worksite distribution of the two flyers “Money Out of Your Pocket” and “Impact of An Extended Pay Freeze”.  These two flyers can also be posted on union bulletin boards.

 On Tuesday, February 14, AFGE members will be walking the halls of Congress with a simple message: we serve our country and we’ve sacrificed enough – it’s time to stop attacking our pay, pensions, and the services we provide.

But we can’t wait until Tuesday to start speaking out against the latest attacks on federal workers – CONTACT YOUR LAWMAKERS NOW.

Additional Information:

AFGE FIGHT BACK NEWSincludes info on ‘how to fight back’, how the bill would affect your pension (deep cuts & payment increases), salary losses and how the bill would affect future employees!
  •   CALL Your Lawmakers: This “phone script” should be made on your personal cell phone or home phone. Do not use a government phone to make this call. Calls can be made at the worksite if you are off duty and not in a public work area. Do not distribute this document over government email or using government resources.
  • Extending the pay freeze is part of this bill and will put a ‘heavy burden on middle income Federal Employees… details!
  • Impact of Proposed Pension Cuts – includes info on “what Federal Employees would pay under proposed cuts” compared to what employees currently pay. 

Proposed Pension Payroll Tax Hike Information (PDF)

Oct. 28, 2011

Obama’s Mortgage Refinance Plan Benefits Federal Employees: Calling the housing bubble “the single greatest cause of the financial crisis and this brutal recession,” President Barack Obama this week announced his plan to make it easier for homeowners who owe more than their houses are worth to refinance their mortgages. He traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, the state hardest hit by the housing crisis to announce the plan, which will save homeowners thousands of dollars a year in mortgage payments. The plan would modify the existing Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to help responsible borrowers refinance at today’s low interest rates, which hover around 4 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate loan. Currently, there are 11 million Americans whose homes are worth less than they owe.

“I’m here to say that we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will,” Obama told the crowd gathered outside the house of Jose and Lissette Bonilla in Las Vegas. “There are still millions of Americans who have worked hard and acted responsibly, paying their mortgage payments on time. But now that their homes are worth less than they owe on their mortgage, they can’t get refinancing.”

Homeowners who meet these requirements are eligible for the program:

Your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the giant government-sponsored mortgage firms. To find out if your mortgage is owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, ask your lender or click here for Freddie Mac and here for Fannie Mae.
Your mortgage must have been delivered to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 2009.
You have not already refinanced under HARP.
You must be current on the mortgage with no late payment in the past six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.
Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae will send operational instructions to banks by Nov. 15 and some banks could begin taking applications under the new program by Dec. 1. The HARP program will also be extended through 2013, beyond its current expiration date of June 2012.