Legislative Action

 

Actions by Congress and the President directly affect Local 1998 members and their families.  As federal workers, we cannot bargain over benefits and wages, but we can advocate on Capitol Hill for improvements in those areas.  News about legislation, laws, and regulations that impact the federal worker will be posted on this page. 

NFFE National's Legislative Director is Randy Erwin.  Under Randy's leadership, NFFE is working everyday to protect and enhance the rights of federal workers, and is constantly addressing a number of issues on Capitol Hill that affect us.  The IAMAW has a strong Legislative Department that works on behalf of both public and private sector workers.  The AFL-CIO is also always at work on Capitol Hill on behalf of American workers across many industries and sectors. 
 
         

  

NFFE Local 1998 Union reps with NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin

(3rd from left) prior to a May 5, 2009 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

Here are some important links: 

 

AFL-CIO's Legislative Action Center

  

IAM's Political & Legislative Activity Page

  

NFFE's Legislative Update Page

  

NFFE endorses H.R. 5752 - The U.S. passport should be "made in the U.S.A."  

  

Passport Integrity Page - Help Maintain & Enhance the Integrity of the U.S. Passport Issuance Process. 

  

 Annual IAMAW/NFFE Legislative Conference in Washington, DC

 

Every year, usually in the month of May, the IAMAW and NFFE hold their annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. 
 
The 2010 IAMAW/NFFE Legislative Conference was held May 10 - 13, 2010 in Washington, DC: 2010 Lobby Week.  NFFE Local 1998 President Colin Walle and Vice President Rob Arnold were in attendance.  Walle also attended the 2009 Legislative Conference.  Delegates heard from and met with members of Congress and their staffs on a number of issues affecting federal employees. 
                                                    
                 
           
 Grayson_Walle
Colin Walle with Senator Casey (D-PA) at the 2010 IAMAW Legislative Conference IAM President Tom Buffenbarger (middle) with Colin Walle and Rob Arnold at the 2010 Conference.  2010 Conference: President Colin Walle
with Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL)
        
2011_Legislative_Kucinich  2011_Legislative_Harkin   
     Rob Arnold with Congressman Dennis Kucinich NFFE NVP's Rob Arnold & Tim Ostrowski with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) at the 2011 Conference NFFE Local 1998 Union President Colin Walle meeting U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) at the 2009 Legislative Conference 

 

 

 

"Legislative" vs. "Political" action

 

Many federal employees mistakenly believe that the law (especially the Hatch Act) prohibits them from engaging in any legislative or political activity.  That belief is not true.

First of all, legislative and political activity are not synonymous.  For example, contacting Congress about pay raises for all federal employees, or expressing concerns about the integrity of the passport issuance process, is - if done in a nonpartisan manner - not political (partisan) activity but rather legislative activity. 
  
                                                                        

Contact a member of Congress about an issue important to you:

                         
      
Regarding political activity, bargaining unit employees of Passport Services are considered "employees who may engage in partisan activity".  Click on this link for a one-page explanation by the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) of what activities are permitted and what are prohibited for employees titled, "The Hatch Act and Federal Employees". 

Click on this link to read a 14-page publication issued by the OSC titled, "Political Activity and the Federal Employee". 
 
  
            
                      
NFFE Local 1998 representatives meeting with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on May 5, 2009 at a Judiciary Committee hearing                    NFFE National newsletter article from 2004 regarding Local 1998 contacting Congress over concerns with the integrity of the passport issuance process 

Voting & Elections

 

 

       
     
Employees should not engage in any partisan political activity, or activity participating in the election process, while on government computers - including while they are on personal time (e.g., breaks, lunch, before/after work).  That means that employees should not donate to a candidate, make comments on blogs in support of a candidate, or donate to the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League (MNPL) while on government computers.  Employees wishing to engage in these activities should do so on their home computers, while on non-work time.                                       

 

 

U.S. Office of Special Counsel: Hatch Act Advisory Legal Opinion

 

On January 24, 2007 the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued an advisory legal opinion regarding whether employees of Passport Services are allowed under the Hatch Act to write letters to Congress expressing concerns about the integrity of the passport issuance process.  The OSC is "an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency" which has, among other responsibilities, the authority to issue advisory opinions that enable "individuals to determine whether contemplated political activities are permitted under the [Hatch] Act" (quoting from the OSC website).  The advisory opinion was requested by NFFE Local 1998.  The OSC summed up the request as follows: "Department of State employees would like to consider writing letters or personally visiting members of Congress to express your concerns about the passport issuance process".  In the opinion, the OSC stated that the "Hatch Act does not prohibit you or other Department of State employees from contacting members of Congress".   The OSC also noted that "the Hatch Act does not prohibit you from using official time to contact members of Congress about your concerns with the passport issuance process". 

  

Click here for the OSC's letter posted on the official OSC website (with the word "passport" and all names redacted): advisory legal opinion 

  

Click here for the OSC's letter posted on the NFFE Local 1998 website (this is the complete letter, nothing is redacted): complete advisory legal opinion  

 

 

  

 

Congress/GAO Documents Relating to NFFE Local 1998 & Passport Services

  

  

  

 



 
   

 

 
 
  May 5, 2009 June 29, 2005
  U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism & Homeland Security hearing titled "The Passport Issuance Process: Closing the Door to Fraud" U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled "Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Passport System Can Be Exploited by Criminals and Terrorists"
  The statement submitted by NFFE Local 1998 starts on page 44 of the report (page 48 of the PDF).    The statement submitted by NFFE Local 1998 starts on page 75 of the report (page 79 of the PDF).    

   

   

 

 



 
 

 
 
 
 

 
  March 16, 2009 June 29, 2005
  GAO report (# 09-447), titled "Undercover Tests Reveal Significant Vulnerabilities in State's Passport Issuance Process" GAO report (# 05-477) titled "Improvements Needed to Strengthen U.S. Passport Fraud Detection Efforts"