Keeping NWSEO Members Safe, Happy & Healthly
December, 2018: At first, I just rolled my eyes. Another government shutdown? More posturing and grand-standing by politicians, that just can’t seem to get their jobs done on time. I had gone through previous shutdowns, most notably the 1995-1996 shutdown, which happened at the same time as my PCS move from one office to another- imagine going into temporary quarters while the rest of government is shut down? I remember having my MIC call to ask if I had to delay my move due to the shutdown. Thankfully, that apparently had already been paid for, and I don’t remember missing a paycheck during that particular shutdown. The 2013 shutdown turned out to be no big deal either, as I recall getting a partial paycheck, but then it was all paid up in the next paycheck. Most of the other shutdowns were too short to have an impact. So, on December 22nd I wasn’t too worried. I figured those politicians would get their shutdown in for spectacular effect, someone would back down right after New Year’s, and then we would be back to business as usual. I was disgusted, but wasn’t too worried, hoping that the politicians remembered the lessons they had learned from previous shut-downs.
By mid-January that optimism began to wear thin as the initial impasse turned into a full stand-off, and there was little to no movement in legislation even as we missed our first paycheck. The news was full of what the politicians were and were not doing, dramatics and histrionics. I began to see the “pawn” icons showing up on my co-workers profile pictures on Facebook. I followed suit, finding one that fit my annoyed and irritated mood. The news began to pay attention to employees that were working without their pay, and how it impacted us. Unfortunately, public response was lukewarm to outright antagonistic, claiming that we knew what we were getting into, were getting paid too
But then, I saw something- something that made me hope for the future, feel grateful for this community, OUR community. And, believe it or not, it was on social media.
First, it was the offers of help. Articles posted about free or low cost options to put food on the table, recipe sharing, and even donations of food that were brought directly to the office! Our communities were stepping up to support us. We had supported them when they called us for the information and reassurance they needed, and now they were supporting us back. I can’t tell you how humbled and grateful I felt the day one of our retirees showed up with sandwiches for everyone at the office. I saw that this was happening at other offices, too.
I didn’t feel as bad when I called my mortgage company to discuss my house, as I knew I wasn’t the only one.
The initial news coverage with the negative comments was disheartening, but then I began seeing other articles, ones that quoted NWSEO stewards and leadership, talking about how the shutdown was affecting us. It was not just the loss of our paychecks, but how the shutdown was making it harder for us to do our jobs. The Wakefield WSR-88D had broken, and the shutdown was making it hard to get the parts that were needed to fix it. Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) stopped sending out data critical for making Marine and Lake Effect Snow forecasts. Spotter training, and important partner outreach events, experiments and projects had to be put on hold. Fire Weather, Hurricane preparedness, and Integrated Warning Team meetings were cancelled. These interviews and articles were making the case for how this affected not just us as individuals, but the communities we serve. These articles took us from a faceless and voiceless “they” group of people who are otherwise easy to shoot verbal arrows at and take funding away from, to the dedicated scientific professionals who were performing an important mission. The negative comments on those articles were much less than they had been on other furlough news articles. Those articles gave me the courage to provide my own interview, which showed how this shutdown affected snowfall forecasts.
History shows us that civil disobedience can appear in numerous ways, including protests, strikes, speech, etc. Many of those forms are not available to us as federal employees, and we have agreed not to use others through collective bargaining. However, we found other ways to protest our treatment. A few rallies and protests were held in Washington that those close to it could attend, and did. Farther away, we had to find other ways. I saw reports of delays in putting away holiday decorations, Pajama days, shutdown beards, mustaches and wild hair colors! The thought of my colleagues wearing shutdown beards, furlough hair and pajamas to work gave me a ray of sunshine, and wished I had something wild to sport in solidarity.
Poetry was written, mugs with sarcastic sayings were brought in and internet memes were shared, all to help us all keep our spirits up. The mug offered by a comedian cheered up a midnight shift made darker and drearier by the pending loss of the next paycheck.
Then, after 35 days, it happened. The politicians finally came up with an agreement, and the shutdown ended. Parties and celebrations were held, a collective cheer could be heard.
Written & submitted by NWSEO Steward Linda Engebretson, WFO Duluth, MN
A Message from NWSEO President John Werner
Fellow NWSEO members, I am excited and humbled to serve as your new NWSEO National President. For those who don’t know me, I have served as the NWSEO Southern Region Chairperson for the last nine years and am truly honored to work with some of the most talented and wonderful people in the world on your behalf. JoAnn Becker is your new NWSEO Executive Vice President. JoAnn has served as the NCEP Regional Chairperson for the last six years. Her wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as her caring and patient nature, will help us ensure that NWSEO remains focused on improving working conditions for the employees and the quality of services that the National Weather Service provides to our nation.
Two more leadership changes in NWSEO are Chris Jacobson becoming the new Southern Region Chair and Suranjana (Suru) Saha becoming the new NCEP Region Chair. These two individuals are great assets to NWSEO and will work diligently to represent you all. Please join us in welcoming Chris and Suru to their new roles.
We are grateful to Dan Sobien for his 14 years of hard work, dedication and service as NWSEO President. Dan has navigated NWSEO through some tough challenges and achieved many amazing accomplishments that benefited our members and the NWS workforce. NWSEO is a bigger and stronger union thanks to his leadership. Our recently retired Executive Vice President Bill Hopkins will also be sorely missed. He has been a great mentor and a wise leader for all of us in NWSEO. We wish him the very best in retirement.
If you are not yet connected to our NWSEO Communications, whether it is through our email subscription service or our private NWSEO Facebook group, we encourage you to reach out to our Membership Director Christy Fox at email@example.com and she will assist you. You can also follow NWSEO on Twitter and stay up-to-date with the latest news on the NWSEO website at www.nwseo.org.
With regards to the NWSEO Facebook group, which is a great environment to exchange ideas and share experiences, we ask you to please direct questions regarding office-specific and/or time-sensitive issues to your respective Stewards or Regional Chairs. Contacting these representatives directly is the best way to ensure that they quickly become aware of your issue or question and will be able to address it in a timely manner. This is especially important for potential grievances due to contractual filing deadlines.
Our contact information will remain the same. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 202-420-1043. JoAnn’s email address is email@example.com and her phone number is 202-420-1045. Please feel free to contact us.
There is a lot for JoAnn and I to learn and we are up to the task. We have great respect and appreciation for the work of our fellow NWS employees. With your support, we, along with the entire NWSEO national council, will forge a path to a bright future.
Update from NWSEO Membership
October 11, 2019 pdf copy
NWSEO membership fuels our professional organization. This year, increasing our membership numbers is critical to NWSEO’s success as we work to protect jobs and fill understaffed offices. NWSEO Membership Director Christy Fox reported that in the past year, 137 employees joined the organization, with many renewing their memberships in support of the important work done by NWSEO. Christy also reported that unfortunately, NWSEO has had 94 membership withdrawals in the past year.
“76% of the losses are due to retirements and promotions out of the bargaining unit,” Christy stated. “Recruitment is ongoing and we should continue to be actively involved from national leadership to regional officers, to local stewards and members from all over the country.”
NWSEO is made up of members from not only the National Weather Service (NWS) but also, Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), National Environmental Satellite, Data, Information Service (NESDIS), Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), and NOAA Attorney’s Guild (NAG). Membership totals for each agency are included below with the total membership currently at 1620 members.
Membership is on the RISE!
We need your help to continue strengthening our membership base!
NWSEO Travel Incentive announced for the 2020 NWSEO National Convention
NWSEO Convention Travel Incentive
New Hire Enrollment Incentive Extended
Membership Rewards for new members AND recruiters
There is strength in membership!
The NWSEO Recruitment page includes a wealth of information about NWSEO, along with successful recruiting ideas and job specific highlights of how NWSEO has improved your working conditions.
Here is a list of some of the information available to you in a printable format on the NWSEO Recruitment page:
44th Annual NWSEO National Convention News
(October 8, 2019) Due to the National Elections results, the Southern Region and NCEP Region Chairs became vacant. The NWSEO National Council approved Chris Jacobson to become the new Southern Region Chair, with Rob Niemeyer continuing as Southern Region Vice Chair. Former NCEP Region Vice Chair Suru Saha became NCEP Region Chair, and the National Council approved Christa Jacobs to become the new NCEP Region Vice Chair. Congratulations to all.
Link to video: Message to NWSEO Members from Senator Warren
Theresa Greenfield (Democrat), candidate for the U.S. Senate from Iowa and backed by unions throughout the state.
Bill Hopkins and Suzanne Sims were recognized and honored for their retirement, years of service and dedication to the NWSEO family. Bill and Suzanne were made lifetime members by the convention. Barry Hirshorn was also made a lifetime member.
The Kip Robinson Award is named after a late lobbyist who worked diligently for NWSEO. Past winners include Chris Jacobson, Bill Proenza, Bill Hirt, John Stansfield, Barry Hirshorn, Chis Sisko, Delyne Kirkham, Steve Pritchett, Shannon White, David Marsalek, Steve Wannebo, Mitch MacDonald, John Werner, Jason B. Wright, JoAnn Becker, and Michael Dion.
Please forward your convention photos to Christy Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations all! Thanks for all you do for NWSEO.
NWSEO MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
General Counsel Richard Hirn
(August 27, 2019) Exactly 40 years ago today, our General Counsel Richard Hirn began his legal career as an attorney in the Office of Appeals of the National Labor Relations Board, enforcing working Americans’ collective bargaining rights during the Carter Administration.
NWSEO Reaches a Record High
(August 14, 2019) On June 19, just seven weeks ago, our NWSEO Membership Director reported a record high of 1615 members. Regional Chairs, Stewards and NWSEO Members themselves across the country are setting goals to not only increase membership but to also shift the view of our organization to a more positive, forward leaning, serving union. The past and recent work done on behalf of all bargaining unit employees under the NWSEO umbrella has been instrumental in obtaining new NWSEO members. Even though more members have retired over the summer months, NWSEO continues to grow with recruitment efforts, membership drives and support from across the country.
“I have witnessed such growth over the past three years, I believe, due to so many stewards and members coming together, sharing their experience with NWSEO and inviting colleagues to support our cause. We have over 30 top recruiters this year! It takes everyone actively participating in this effort of recruitment & retention.”
Have Your Voice Heard. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will shape the future of the National Weather Service, including employees’ rights, privileges, and your work environment. NWSEO understands your working conditions and your needs for a family friendly work life environment.
NEW HIRE ENROLLMENT INCENTIVE. NWSEO offers a New Hire enrollment incentive through December 31, 2019. Any newly hired employee (NWS, NESDIS, AOC, AOML, NAG new hires) who joins NWSEO by Form 1187 within nine months of their start date, or during a New Employee course or its equivalent, will receive a $300 rebate. The $300 rebate check will arrive within 7 business days.
CONGRESSMAN INVITED TO WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE
(August 13, 2019) Congressman Mark Amodei visited the WFO in Elko, Nevada on July 31 at the invitation of the NWSEO. Congressman Amodei has been the United States Representative for Nevada’s second congressional district since 2011 and on the Appropriations Committee. The group discussed a variety of topics critical to NWS employees: the agency mission in general, but he was particularly sympathetic about the brutal staffing shortages and the pay-cap denials for staffing OT. He and his staff spent some time with individual employees affected by the pay caps. The Congressman successfully launched a weather balloon and the local newspaper was there to capture the story. He discussed his ideas for coordinating future wildfire research with core partners, and challenged the employees to come up with other projects. The staff brought up their giant radar holes where they have numerous fires, winter weather, and flash flooding. The Congressman promised to look into adding a radar in central Nevada, cooperating with other entities to fund and maintain it.
Four Congressmen Seek Impoundment Act Ruling
601 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, N.W., SUITE 900, WASHINGTON, DC 20004 202-907-3036 email@example.com