NWSEO proudly represents more NOAA employees
than any other Union.

 

 

NWSEO serves bargaining unit employees of the National Weather Service, NESDIS Office of Satellite & Product Operations, Office of General Counsel, Aircraft Operations Center, and the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory.

 

A Union Championing the Rights of NOAA Employees

PREVAILING CONDITIONS

Top Stories

(August 20, 2021) On August 17, 2021, NWSEO filed a Union grievance on behalf of six forecasters of the Boise WFO over violations of multiple sections of Article 20 of the NWS-NWSEO 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Fixed schedules were unilaterally changed for three of the employees while the other three employees were deprived of the opportunity to work overtime during the same period.

Management needed to backfill several operational shifts on the fixed schedule for a forecaster who was called to be deployed as an IMET.  But rather than offering bargaining unit employees overtime on a voluntary basis in order to cover these vacant operational shifts as required by Article 20, section 9, management changed the fixed work schedule of three other employees.  In total, management violated Article 20, section 3(B)(4), section 6(B), section 7, section 8(A), section 8(G), section 9(A), and section 9(B).

NWSEO demanded back pay for the affected employees and for any other qualified forecaster who was deprived of the opportunity to work overtime covering specific vacant shifts.

NWSEO is committed to fighting for fair opportunities for our employees. We appreciate all of our members who support our organization.

(August 17, 2021) On July 19, 2021, NWSEO filed a Union grievance over violations of two Articles of the NWS-NWSEO 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.  On June 22, 2021, management issued a vacancy announcement through the Merit Assignment Program (MAP) for three GS-1340/1315 Interdisciplinary Meteorologist/Hydrologist (Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support or “HAS” Forecaster) vacancies in three River Forecast Centers in the Western Region.  Additionally, on June 23, 2021, management issued another vacancy announcement through the MAP for eight GS-0856 Electronic Technician vacancies in the Western Region. Both Merit Assignment Program announcements stated that relocation expenses would not be reimbursed.  These actions are violations of Article 1, section 3, which requires that all past practices not in conflict with the Agreement remain in effect, and Article 39, section 1, which guarantees that employees will be reimbursed for relocation expenses if the relocation is in the best interest of the government.

An unknown number of qualified bargaining unit hydrologists, meteorologists and electronic technicians have been harmed by this violation because they have been dissuaded from applying for these positions by the agency’s failure to offer relocation expenses; and the eventual selectee has been harmed by not having his or her relocation expenses reimbursed.  The failure to offer relocation expenses on these Merit Assignment Program vacancies is a violation of past practice and therefore a violation of Article 1, section 3.

NWSEO demanded that these vacancy announcements be reissued noting that the relocation expenses will be authorized.  NWSEO also demanded that the NWS inform all unit employees by email of this reissuance.  If other than local candidates are selected in the interim, they shall be granted reimbursement of his or her relocation expenses, and additional vacancies at these locations should be announced properly.  The selectees from these re-advertisements should be granted back pay retroactive to the date of the initial selections.

NWSEO is committed to fighting for fair opportunities for our employees. We appreciate all of our members who support our organization.

(July 22, 2021) We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting Training Workshops at the 2021 NWSEO National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada!  The convention will take place at Caesars Palace on October 18th & 19th, with the workshops held on the afternoon of the 18th.  The Training Workshops are open to all conference attendees.  Conference attendees will need to pre-register for these workshops (details coming soon) and will be allowed to attend two different workshops. 

Workshop descriptions are below:

Workshop 1: NWS Grievances and Arbitrations: This workshop is designed for all stewards. This workshop will address the NWS Grievance and Arbitration process.  Attendees will gain a better understanding of the grievance process, such as how to file a grievance; learn the differences between an employee grievance and a union grievance.

Workshop 2: NWS Local Office Teams/Negotiations: This workshop is designed for all NWS stewards.  This workshop is a deep dive into Local Office Teams (LOTs).  Attendees will learn techniques for holding effective LOT meetings and understand the negotiation process at the local level. What is tactical empathy and how can it power your negotiations? 

Workshop 3: Understanding Your Contract: This workshop is designed for all NWSEO leaders and those considering future leadership roles.  This workshop will provide an overview of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and cover the key points of the 2021 4th NWS-NWSEO CBA.  Special emphasis will be given to articles on Labor-Management Relations, the Grievance Process, Discipline and Schedules.  Participants will work through scenarios to discover how to make the contract work for you.   

Workshop 4: Growing Your Membership and Engaging with Your Members:  This workshop is designed for all members.  Membership is the strength and foundation of our organization. We must all work diligently to recruit new members and retain existing members.  In this workshop, we will discuss philosophies and strategies for recruiting coworkers to join NWSEO, ideas for engaging current members and growing future NWSEO leaders.

Just a reminder, there is still time to earn the recruitment incentive – deadline is July 31st!  Contact Christy Fox at membership@nwseo.org if you have any questions. 

(July 15, 2021) The House Appropriations Committee has released its proposed FY 2022 Department of Commerce Appropriations Act which approves an 11.5% increase in funding for NWS Operations, Research and Facilities.  The bill also increases funding for operations at the Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) by 17% and the Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO) at NESDIS by 8%.  An additional $100 million is also allocated for aircraft procurement at AOC.

The Report accompanying the bill contains the following language of note:

“The Committee is additionally concerned about the need for additional resources to ensure that our Nation’s science agencies are better prepared to help in the prediction and response to wildfires and therefore directs NOAA to conduct a workforce needs assessment on the training and potential need for additional Incident Meteorologists for wildfires and other extreme events.  NOAA shall brief the Committee on the results of this assessment no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.“

“NWS Staffing.—The Committee remains concerned about continuing reports of staffing and management challenges within NWS. NOAA and the Department of Commerce are directed to ensure that NWS fulfills its critical mission to protect the lives and property of our Nation’s citizens, including by filling all vacancies as expeditiously as possible.  In its fiscal year 2022 spend plan, NWS shall follow direction as provided in fiscal year 2021 regarding details of all NWS funded positions.  The Committee further directs NWS to continue the quarterly briefings to the Committee consistent with prior year direction.“

“Dissemination.—The Committee is very troubled by the ongoing issues with NWS’ forecast dissemination systems.  The recommendation therefore includes an increase of $39,284,000 above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level. NWS shall provide monthly up- dates to the Committee on the status of the ongoing problems with its dissemination systems and its progress in carrying out the Integrated Dissemination Program plan.“

“Hurricane Hunters.—The recommendation includes an increase of $100,000,000 above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level for hurricane hunter aircraft.  These funds shall be used to: (1) complete the outfitting with scientific equipment of the recently acquired Gulf- stream 550; (2) perform the service depot level maintenance for the P–3 Orion hurricane hunter aircraft; and (3) exercise the contract option to acquire a second Gulfstream 550 to support hurricane surveillance and other missions.“

 

(July 13, 2021) Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has just introduced H.R. 4274, the "Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act," which would raise the annual Title 5 overtime premium pay cap for employees engaged in wildland fire suppression activities to the Executive Schedule II pay rate (presently $199,300). Unlike the version introduced in the Senate earlier this year which covers only employees of the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, as a result of NWSEO's lobbying efforts, this House version includes employees of the Department of Commerce engaged in wildland fire suppression activities. The Senate version is pending consideration by the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.  NWSEO continues to work with members of that Committee and their staff to have an amendment introduced to add Commerce Department employees (i.e. Incident Meteorologists) when the bill is considered and approved by the Committee.

A copy of the House bill is provided at this link: Rep Lofgren H.R. 4274

(June 2, 2021) On May 27, 2021, NWSEO filed a grievance over failure to provide relocation expense reimbursements for Lead Forecaster and IT Specialist vacancies in Alaska.  In late April, management issued a vacancy announcement through the Merit Assignment Program (MAP) for a GS-13 Lead Forecaster position at the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit.  Additionally, a month later, management issued another vacancy announcement through the MAP for a GS-13 IT Specialist position at the Alaska Region Headquarters, Systems Operation Division, IT Branch (ITB) in Anchorage, AK.

Both MAP vacancy announcements stated that relocation expenses would not be reimbursed.  This is a violation of Article 39, section 1 of the NWS-NWSEO Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which states in part that “NWS will reimburse relocation expenses in accordance with 5 USC 5724.”  Such MAP relocations are in the interest of the agency and not primarily for the convenience of the employee.

Additionally, this is a violation 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(1) Merit System Principles, and 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(4), (5), (6) and (12), Prohibited Personnel Practices. NWSEO was informed that relocation reimbursement was not offered in the announcement because management planned to select local candidates in order to avoid payment of relocation expenses.  Limiting recruitment of candidates in order to avoid paying relocation expenses is a non-merit factor and constitutes a violation of merit system principles which include that recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources, solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge, and skills, after fair and open competition.  The violation of this merit system principle is also a prohibited personnel practice.

As a result of Management’s actions, an unknown number of qualified GS-12 bargaining unit meteorologists and IT specialists have been harmed because they have been dissuaded from applying for this promotional opportunity; and the eventual selectee has been harmed by not having his or her relocation expenses reimbursed. 

The Union demanded the vacancy announcements be extended and reissued with relocation expenses authorized, and the NWS will inform all unit employees by email of this re-advertisement.  In addition, if a non-local candidate is selected in the interim, he or she shall be granted reimbursement of his or her relocation expenses and an additional Lead Forecaster vacancy at the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and IT Specialist vacancy in the Alaska Region Headquarters IT branch should be properly announced. The selectees should be granted back pay retroactive to the date of the initial selections.

NWSEO is committed to fighting for fair opportunities for our employees. We appreciate all of our members who support our organization.

-NWSEO-

(May 12, 2021) NWSEO has created a new program – NWSEO CARES - to provide support to offices in need during times of natural disaster or catastrophic circumstances.

“The goal of this program is to help our fellow employees in need who are adversely impacted by a local disaster,” stated NWSEO President John Werner.  “The Cares Act Program was born from our frustration with not having a way to provide timely and effective assistance to our fellow employees in offices that were adversely impacted by natural disasters.  This program gives us a ready-made means of providing timely and effective assistance to our brothers and sisters when needed.  With this program, we can do things like funding the purchase and transportation of fuel, food, water, etc. for nearby offices.  It’s all about supporting and helping each other out.”

This program will kick off Memorial Day weekend.  In order to prepare for the kickoff, NWSEO will host a CONTEST to determine two items:
   1.   the NWSEO CARES Program LOGO
   2.   the NWSEO CARES Program mini-poster to explain/introduce the program for bulletin boards across the country.

NWSEO Director of Membership Christy Fox will provide updates about the contest throughout this month.  Members can submit graphic designs or photos and ideas to Christy at membership@nwseo.org by May 26.  Winners of the contest will be announced May 31.

The funding for NWSEO CARES is provided through voluntary donations from NWSEO Members in an effort to help our fellow employees get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible after adverse events.  NWSEO Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Emily Roy has set up multiple donation options for this program, which are listed below.  Please reach out to Emily with any questions at e.roy@nwseo.org.

WAYS TO DONATE

●                Venmo: @NWSEOCARES

●                Paypal: send payment to e.roy@nwseo.org

●                Apple Pay: (202) 770-7983

●                Mail a Check: Make check payable to "NWSEO Cares"

NWSEO

601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Ste. 900, South Building

Washington, DC  20004

Thank you for your support of NWSEO members and our federal employees through the NWSEO CARES Program.

-NWSEO-

Colleagues,
We are happy to announce our new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between NWS and NWSEO has been approved through the Agency Head Review! We are already developing communications to walk you through the new CBA and answer your questions so please look for emails and NWS Insider articles in the weeks ahead. We will also give a brief opener at the March 25 All Hands webcast.
On Friday, March 5, prior to sending forward for Agency Head Review, all parties virtually signed simultaneously. It was a momentous way to end the week and we dressed for the occasion.
It is worth repeating, our joint goal in implementing this new CBA is to ensure that we honor, protect and maintain the highly skilled and dedicated NWS workforce, which is the key to our collective success. Proudly and together we are building a weather-ready nation.
- Mary and John
--
The CBA has been posted in our Library here: https://nwseo.org/library/
(Image) Top row left to right: NWSEO Executive Vice President, JoAnn Becker; NWSEO President, John Werner and NWS Director, Dr. Louis Uccellini
Bottom row left to right: NWS Central Region Director and Negotiator, Ken Harding; NWS Chief Negotiator, David Murray, and NWS Deputy Director, Mary Erickson
 

 

 

(March 5, 2021) This morning, NWSEO President John Werner and Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker signed the 2021 NWS-NWSEO Collective Bargaining Agreement together with NWS leaders Dr. Louis Uccellini, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Weather Services; Mary Erickson, Deputy Assistant Administrator National Weather Service; and David Murray, NWS Chief Negotiator.

The contract will now be submitted for Agency Head Review at the Department of Commerce level, where the Agency has 30 days to approve or disapprove the agreement.  The Agreement may only be disapproved by the “agency” head (actually, a designee of the Secretary of Commerce) if it contains a provision or provisions that are contrary to law.  The Agreement will go into effect once Agency approval is received.

“This is a landmark occasion for NWSEO and NWS.  We are on the threshold of a new dawn for federal workers with the new administration and a renewed focus on protecting the federal workforce.  We hope this signing marks a pivotal moment in the national NWSEO and NWS relationship and results in an even more productive, transparent and collaborative relationship.  Working effectively together will allow us to develop the needed synergy to ensure we remain the juggernaut of weather, water and climate services!” said President Werner.

We are grateful for the contributions of our members who participated and helped in our successful negotiation efforts.  We thank all NWSEO members for the support for this new contract.  Your NWSEO membership makes a difference in determining the future for our Workforce and the Agency.

If you are not currently a dues-paying member and would like to join our professional organization, please contact Christy Fox at membership@nwseo.org for more information.

 

-NWSEO-

 

Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce that NWS and NWSEO have reached an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Should these terms be ratified by the Union’s membership and approved on Agency Head Review in the coming weeks, we will have a CBA that better serves the needs of our workforce and the agency. 

We launched this effort more than 5 years ago. Though negotiations were strained at times, and resulted in an impasse at one point, both sides remained committed to the need to reach agreement on a new CBA that better serves the needs of the agency and our employees. To that end, we re-engaged over the past year and refocused our negotiations in earnest over the past three months to reach agreement.

The next steps are editorial review, NWSEO ratification and Agency Head Review.  We will make the new contract available to all employees once it is implemented, and we’ll work together to develop communications to walk you through the new CBA and answer your questions.

Congratulations and thanks to all who have worked diligently and in collaboration over the past year to effectively negotiate a CBA we can all be proud of; one that will help us become a stronger, smarter agency as we work together to build a more Weather-Ready Nation. Our joint goal in implementing this new CBA is to ensure that we honor, protect and maintain the highly skilled and dedicated NWS workforce, which is the key to our collective success. 

- Mary and John

February 19, 2021

January 1, 2021 pdf

Dear NWSEO brothers and sisters,

As we take a moment to reflect on this past year, truly a year of disbelief, I’ve considered our top milestones in 2020.

NWSEO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS

This has been a record year for contract negotiations.  First, the NESDIS Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was ratified by the NESDIS union members and signed by the parties.  This is a big accomplishment for Chairman Hugh Sharkey, Aaron Savage, Jake Cherrix, Stan Abney, Zach Dornhagen and Arla Tillman.

Next, the contracts for the NOAA Attorneys Guild (NAG), Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) and Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) were opened for renegotiation.

Last, the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) took jurisdiction over the NWS contract negotiations and adjudicated the 29 contract articles in dispute.  The NWS contract ratification vote on the imposed contract was conducted electronically, with the NWS NWSEO members overwhelmingly rejecting the contract by a vote of 91% to 9%.

A new dispute arose when NWSEO requested the parties return to the table to renegotiate the NWS contract.  Management would only negotiate over the four articles agreed upon prior to the FSIP taking jurisdiction and NWSEO demanded to negotiate the contract in its entirety.  The matter was taken to arbitration.  Arbitrator Greenburg ruled NWS breached negotiations ground rules and ordered NWS back to the bargaining table to renegotiate over 17 articles.  The arbitrator however, ruled the NWS is not obligated to renegotiate provisions imposed by the FSIP.  NWSEO is appealing this portion of the ruling.  In the meantime, NWS management must maintain the status quo by honoring the 2001 CBA.

OUR FIRST VIRTUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION

The 2020 NWSEO National Convention was a successful virtual one-day event.  Over 150 members registered for this event.  NWSEO President Werner, NWSEO Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker and NWSEO Secretary-Treasurer Chris Jacobson facilitated informative sessions, reports, and new business.  NWSEO awarded the prestigious 2020 Kip Robinson Award to Karleisa Rogacheski.

The 2021 NWSEO National Convention is scheduled in person (fingers crossed) for October 18-19, 2021 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV.  Look for information on steward training in the upcoming 2021 Notice of Convention.

STRONG MEMBERSHIP PERSISTS DESPITE COVID, RETIREMENTS, PROMOTIONS & SEPARATIONS

NWSEO welcomed 122 new and renewed members during 2020. From our larger bargaining units, Central Region leads in total number of new members with 24, followed by Eastern Region with 21 new members for the year.  NWSEO members from the agencies (NWS, NAG, AOML, AOC and NESDIS) have invited and encouraged growth of our union and together, current NWSEO membership is now at 1,591 members.

NEW NWSEO WEBSITE

2020 saw the launch of a much needed new and improved NWSEO.org website.  Our website is an important resource for employees, media contacts, elected representatives, and the public.  The new NWSEO.org has been a challenging effort due to the massive content of the former website, which contained over 1,000 pages of important information.  We continue to work to improve this new website for our members.  New features were added to the website to improve the user experience including:

  • Mobile/tablet device friendly site
  • Search feature to make it easier to locate important information
  • Subscription service for website updates
  • Improved NWSEO store
  • Password-protected section for NWSEO Officers

IMPROVED MEMBER ENGAGEMENT

Member feedback is valued and important, and we have taken several opportunities to survey our membership on important issues in 2020.  We reached out to HMTs about the OPL dispute to gain their feedback.  We surveyed members for their feedback on the new NWSEO website, convention location and various work/life issues.  We will continue using surveys to collect feedback from members in 2021.  Please help us gather your input by responding to our surveys and ensure your voice is heard.

RECRUITMENT INCENTIVE REMINDERS

NWSEO CONVENTION TRAVEL INCENTIVE.  Any NWSEO member who recruits two or more new members to join NWSEO using the Membership Form 1187 for payroll deduction (not by credit card) from August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2021, NWSEO will provide reasonable airfare, 3 nights lodging, and approved group meals for the 2021 NWSEO Convention at the Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV on October 18-19, 2021.  The name of the recruiter must be on the submitted Form 1187 in order for them to receive recruitment credit.

NEW HIRE ENROLLMENT INCENTIVE.  NWSEO offers a New Hire enrollment incentive through December 31, 2022.  Any newly hired employee (NWS, NESDIS, AOC, AOML, NAG) who joins NWSEO by Form 1187 (payroll deduction) within nine months of their start date, or during a New Employee course or its equivalent, will receive a $300 dues rebate via check mailed to the new member’s home address within 7 business days.

MEMBER REWARDS FOR BOTH NEW & LONG-TIME MEMBERS.  Any NWSEO member who recruits a fellow non-member to join NWSEO by Form 1187, will receive a NWSEO t-shirt and a $50 gift card (of their choice).  The new member will receive a $100 dues rebate mailed to his/her home address within 7 business days and a $50 gift card (of their choice).  This enrollment incentive expires December 31, 2022.

CHEERS TO 2021

With the challenging 2020 year behind us, let’s push forward with hope, courage and renewed vigor to make 2021 the best year ever for NWSEO members.  It’s through your talents, efforts, and dedication that the bargaining units NWSEO represents are so widely trusted and respected by our partners, peers, Congress and the public.  Wishing you and yours all the best for a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Warm Regards,

John Werner
President, National Weather Service Employees Organization

(November 28, 2020) In August, NWSEO’s membership rejected the proposed NWS-NWSEO collective bargaining agreement by a nine-to-one vote. After the vote, the NWS protested the fact that the entire agreement was submitted to the membership for ratification. According to the NWS, the union’s membership only had a right to vote to approve the four articles of the agreement to which the parties had agreed before the NWS prematurely declared impasse, and not the 13 articles to which they agreed during bargaining that occurred after impasse was declared, nor the 29 articles that were imposed by the Federal Service Impasses Panel.

When the NWS refused to return to the bargaining table to renegotiate anything other than the initial four articles to which the parties had initially agreed, the union asked a Federal labor arbitrator, Keith Greenberg, to resolve the dispute over whether the union had a right to ratify and renegotiate the entire agreement.

On November 27, Arbitrator Greenberg issued his decision. In summary, he held that:

  1. The union had the right to ratify the entire CBA, including the Panel imposed provisions;
  2. NWSEO has a right to renegotiate all 17 articles to which the parties voluntarily agreed, and not just the four articles to which they agreed before the NWS declared impasse;
  3. NWS could elect, but was not required to, renegotiate the 29 articles imposed by the FSIP;
  4. The NWS violated the parties’ ground rules by refusing to give NWSEO a copy of the entire agreement, including FSIP imposed provisions, for the ratification vote, and by failing to conduct an editorial review of the final agreement with the union before the ratification vote.

As a remedy, he ordered that the union has a choice:

  1. either the union can now demand that the NWS return to the table over the 17 articles that were not part of the Panel’s final decision, or
  2. the union can demand that the NWS provide a final version of the agreement, conduct an editorial review, and then allow NWSEO to conduct another ratification vote on that edited version of the final agreement, and return to the bargaining table over the 17 articles if it fails ratification again.

NWSEO disagrees with the Arbitrator’s decision that the NWS does not have an obligation to renegotiate the provisions imposed by the FSIP - it contradicts his decision that the membership had a right to ratify the entire agreement, including the FSIP imposed provisions. NWSEO will be filing an appeal of that part of his decision with the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Such appeals usually take a year before they are resolved.

In the meantime, the union now has a right to renegotiate the 17 articles to which the parties had agreed on their own, and to seek a better deal for the members on the subjects they cover, which include:

Parties and Purposes of the Agreement

Recognition and Unit Designation

Reduction in Force

Government Housing

Laws and Regulations
Rights of Employees
Rights of the Union
Equal Employment Opportunity

Rights of Management

Discipline
Position Descriptions

Official Records

Travel

Employee Assistance

Miscellaneous
Surveys and Questionnaires

Furloughs

It is unknown how long this negotiation process may take, and it may involve another trip to mediation and to the Federal Service Impasses Panel if the parties are unable to come to an agreement on these articles. Impasse proceedings usually take four to six months. The members will then have another opportunity to vote on whether to ratify the new agreement.

In addition, the union has a suit pending in Federal court in Washington, DC challenging the legality of the FSIP decision imposing the 29 articles. This suit alleges that the FSIP’s decision is illegal because the individuals appointed to the Panel by President Trump were not confirmed by the Senate. The suit also alleges that the FSIP did not have jurisdiction over the NWS-NWSEO bargaining dispute because the parties were not really at impasse in their negotiations- as evidenced by the fact that the parties continued bargaining after the FSIP accepted the case and actually came to agreement on 13 additional articles.

In light of the length of time it will take to renegotiate at least the 17 articles as ordered by Arbitrator Greenberg, the union’s appeal of that portion of his decision concerning whether the NWS must also renegotiate those provisions imposed by the FSIP, and the union’s lawsuit challenging the legality of the FSIP’s decision, it is unlikely that there will be a new NWS-NWSEO collective bargaining agreement anytime in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, as a result of this summer’s Court of Appeals decision in NWSEO v. FLRA, the NWS must continue to honor the 2001 collective bargaining agreement.

 

-NWSEO-

No one cares more for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

employees than NOAA employees.

No one works harder for NOAA employees than NOAA employees.

We are NOAA employees.  We are NWSEO.

(November 12, 2020) The Senate Appropriations Committee has released its proposed Department of Commerce Appropriations Act which includes increased funding for NOAA and the NWS and rejects the Administration’s proposed cuts to staffing at the NWS and at AOML, whose employees are also represented by NWSEO.  The Appropriations Committee criticized NWS’s budget execution and for continued understaffing at the NWS. The Senate bill increased funding for AFS specifically to fill vacancies. “Committee provides an increase of $23,000,000 above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level for this purpose and directs NWS to reconcile previous year funding gaps and prioritize filling vacancies in currently understaffed WFOs.”

The House had approved an even higher funding level for the NWS, and the two bills must be reconciled in conference.

Here are excerpts from the Senate Committee Report accompanying the FY 2021 Commerce Appropriations Act:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OPERATIONS, RESEARCH, AND FACILITIES [In thousands of dollars]

Observations............................................................................................... 231,362
Central Processing.................................................................................... 97,980
Analyze, Forecast, and Support...................................................... 537,393
Dissemination .............................................................................................. 76,843
Science and Technology Integration........................................... 155,524
GRAND TOTAL NWS ........................................................................... 1,099,102

Spending Levels.—The Committee notes its frustration with NWS over its failure to adhere to spending levels included in Senate Report 116–127 and adopted by Public Law 116–93.  The Committee reminds NOAA and NWS that the spending levels specified by Congress in the reports or explanatory statements accompanying its appropriations bills are not recommendations, but are in fact a requirement and that per the bill, ‘‘any deviation from the amounts designated for specific activities in the report shall be subject to the [reprogramming] procedures set forth in section 505 of this Act.’’  

Continued disregard for the spending levels included in the explanatory statements will result in increased budgetary controls for NWS in subsequent fiscal years.

NWS Staffing.—The Committee recognizes and appreciates NWS’s work to fill vacancies, especially for weather forecast personnel.

However, there is a long way to go, and the Committee continues to be concerned with the number of NWS employee vacancies given the importance of the NWS mission to protect the lives and property of our Nation’s citizens.  The Committee does not adopt the proposed NWS workforce savings and directs NWS to continue efforts to fill all vacancies as expeditiously as possible.

Furthermore, NOAA shall continue to provide quarterly briefings to the Committees on all NWS staffing issues, to include: a list of funded vacancies, by type and location, including the length of time the positions have been vacant; the program, project, or activity [PPA] from which each vacancy is funded, and the plan for addressing each vacancy; an update on the implementation of the Operations and Workforce Analysis; budget execution by PPA; major procurements; and other topics as appropriate.

NWS Staffing in Alaska.—The Committee remains concerned about potential NWS staffing reductions in Alaska and reminds NWS that any staffing changes must comply with the reprogramming procedures set forth in section 505 of this act.  Prior to proposing any staffing reductions, NWS shall conduct community outreach meetings in all affected communities.

Information Technology Officers [ITOs].—The Committee notes that NOAA still has not submitted a proposal for a pilot Regional Enterprise Application Development and Integration team.  Until such a plan is submitted, and NOAA reports the results, the proposal to eliminate ITOs is rejected.

Analyze, Forecast, and Support [AFS].—The Committee recognizes the need to fully staff the Nation’s weather forecast offices [WFOs] and believes the requested levels within AFS do not meet this need.  Therefore, the Committee provides an increase of $23,000,000 above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level for this purpose and directs NWS to reconcile previous year funding gaps and prioritize filling vacancies in currently understaffed WFOs.

Tsunami Warning Program.—The Committee rejects NWS’s proposed cut to the Tsunami Warning Program, including for the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation program grants.  Funding is provided at no less than $500,000 above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level to ensure that high-quality tsunami watches, warnings, and advisories are issued to safeguard lives and property.  The Committee directs NWS to expeditiously fill the current vacancies.

NOAA-Wide:
Workforce Succession Planning.—The Committee is concerned that a large percentage of NOAA’s workforce is either currently retirement eligible or soon to be.  Therefore, NOAA is directed to provide the Committee, within 270 days of enactment of this act, a report that details: (1) the age composition of NOAA’s workforce, to include an assessment of the percentage of staff by line office that are currently retirement eligible or will be within the next five fiscal years; (2) a summary of the agency’s current workforce succession plans, including any relevant documentation; and (3) any challenges to succession planning that could be remedied through legislation.

To support the cause and work of NWSEO, contact NWSEO Membership Director Christy Fox at membership@nwseo.org.

-NWSEO-

No one cares more for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

employees than NOAA employees.

No one works harder for NOAA employees than NOAA employees.

We are NOAA employees.  We are NWSEO.