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 Drew Halunen. Under Drew’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.
“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.
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.”
Voting and 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).
Click here for the OSC’s letter posted on the NFFE Local 1998 website (this is the complete letter, nothing is redacted).
National Legislative News