I always look back to the year 2007 as the marker on how good or bad a year could be for me as an employee at Passport Services. From my experience it seems that every couple of years a problem arises that sends our department into panic mode. I have always wondered why this happens. We are an old institution, and we should have seen and dealt with almost anything the world could throw at us. But it seems that institutional knowledge does not transfer very well other than the act of passport adjudication itself. Maybe that is all that we can hope for, but I wake up every day hoping for more.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because it seems that those of us in the trenches day in and day out don’t always get the information we need and deserve. I know I have spoken to this in the past, but I think it is worth repeating. If you are unsure of something, ask for clarification. If you are told that this is how something is done and it does not seem right, ask for the official guidance. Not opinion, guidance! Please never blindly accept what you are told. Also, many topics and issues fall within the framework of the Collective Bargaining agreement. Use the information contained in the CBA to make the workplace a better place to be.

One of the reasons for this email is make sure everyone knows where some of the larger grievances stand as of this writing. So, with that in mind, here we go:

1. Mission Critical Arbitration: At this time, the case has gone through arbitration. We are just waiting for the Arbitrator to make a final decision/ruling. We hope it will be any day.

2. Hazard Pay Arbitration: This case will hopefully be dealt with in the very near future in the Alternative Dispute Realm.

3. Administrative Leave Grievance: We are waiting for a final answer from management on this grievance. Once we receive that answer, we can decide on whether to send this
forward to Arbitration.

4. 25% Capacity Waiver Grievance: This grievance is in the process of determination on whether we move the case forward to arbitration.

While these are the biggest cases that involve all of us, it is by no means all the issues and grievances we are working on. Additionally, there are several individual cases being dealt with. Name the topic as it has seemed to reared its ugly head in the past 18 months. There never seems to be enough people or time in the day to deal with all the problems thrown at us.

I would be remiss if I did not touch on the latest hot button issue facing us over the coming months. And yes, that topic is the vaccine mandate. I understand we all have our opinion on topic. But I must remind everyone that in some cases the CBA really does rule our actions. When you have a minute Article 5 of our CBA spells out how we can and can’t negotiate when it comes to Executive Orders. As I have stated in writings before where we are allowed to negotiate, we will negotiate. With that being said, we have invoked bargaining regarding the vaccine mandate on a multiple topics like time frames, exemptions, employee rights, documentation, enforcement, and discipline. How far we get and what we get is in the near future.

Finally, I want to let everyone know that we will be sending out the annual survey soon as entitled to per Article 7, Section 9 of the CBA. After many years of extensive surveys and how COVID has impacted our lives the last couple of years, we thought it would be wise to make the survey much smaller and more practical going forward. So, when the survey is released, please complete it. And don’t forget, the CBA allows each of us 30 minutes to participate and give valuable feedback.

In closing, I want to thank everyone for all your hard work each day serving your fellow citizens. I know it has not been an easy time. When we wake up tomorrow my hope for each of you is the day is a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

In solidarity,

/s/Lee W.
Lee T. Wentz
President, NFFE1998 IAMAW AFL-CIO

Emilie Wardrip

By Emilie