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2019 Prevailing Conditions

For immediate release

Meteorologist Union Requests Grassley's Help in Exposing Sexual Harassment at Nominee’s Firm

(Des Moines- April 10) - The union that represents the meteorologists and technicians at National Weather Service offices nationwide today called upon Senator Grassley to demand that the Department of Labor release its investigative report on the sexual harassment investigation of AccuWeather, Inc., the company owned and headed by Barry Myers at the time, who has been nominated to head the NWS’s parent agency.

Last June, AccuWeather entered into a Compliance Agreement with the Labor Department under which AccuWeather agreed to pay 35 female employees $290,000 in damages for sexual harassment in the workplace. According to this Compliance Agreement, DOL “found AccuWeather discriminated against female employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment” and “further found that AccuWeather did not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct such conduct.”

While the Compliance Agreement has been publicly released (https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/foia/files/20180619-AccuWeather-CA-I00201572-MA-Redacted.pdf), the January 26, 2018 Results of Investigation referenced in the agreement, and which apparently contain the details of the workplace misconduct found by DOL, has not been made available. In a letter sent today union Regional Chair Jim Lee, who is a forecaster at the Des Moines Forecast Office, asked Senator Grassley to obtain and release a copy of the investigative report before the Senate votes on the nomination of Myers to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. “We are seeking your assistance because you have been a champion of NOAA employees and were personally responsible in 2015 for the enactment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Act,” Lee wrote.

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For immediate release

Contact:  Richard Hirn 202-255-3141
February 1, 2019 Print Copy

Message from General Counsel Richard Hirn

Simpkins Award

(Washington DC – February 1, 2019) A Federal Labor Arbitrator ruled today that the National Weather Service violated the collective bargaining agreement with its employee union when the agency reduced the hours of operation at five Weather Service Offices in Alaska, Cold Bay, McGrath, Yakutat, Annette, and St. Paul, in August 2016. Arbitrator John Paul Simpkins ordered the NWS to restore 16 hour-a-day operations at these offices, and directed the NWS to pay the affected employees the lost overtime that they had been working to keep the offices open 16 hours a day. The employees’ union, the National Weather Service Employees Organization estimates that the back pay exceeds $500,000.

The NWS has been criticized by the meteorology community for reducing the hours of operations at these offices because it has resulted in a loss of weather data, obtained through weather balloon launches from these offices, that feeds into the computer models that provide forecast for not only Alaska but for the lower 48 states.

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Rally to End Partial Government Shutdown Flyer (pdf copy)

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Pellerito, NWSEO Steward Binghamton, NY
Rally Speaker 

Link to CSPAN coverage of Rally

Link to CSPAN coverage of Mark's Speech

 

 

Press Releases and Media Coverage

July 13, 2019 The New York Times - Flying with the Hurricane Hunters into Barry's Heart

February 1, 2019 Anchorage Daily News Anchorage, AK - Weather service ordered to pay rural Alaska workers whose overtime hours were cut

January 30, 2019 Federal News Network - Excepted employees say shutdown did irreparable damage to morale

January 30, 2019 Telemundo 40 McAllen, TX - C�mo cierre de gobierno afect� al Servicio Meteorol�gico

January 30, 2019 KGBT Channel 4 Harlingen, TX - Federal workers hopeful government will remain open for longer than three weeks

January 26, 2019 Star Tribune, MN - Federal workers in Minnesota welcome temporary end to government shutdown

January 25, 2019 The Sumter Item, SC - Sumter resident, meteorologist says government shutdown has been painful for National Weather Service staff

January 25, 2019 WRAL Raleigh, NC - Despite end to shutdown, many federal workers in 'tough place' until next paycheck arrives

January 24, 2019 Washington Post - Lawmakers want Trump to know how the shutdown hurts the Weather Service

January 23, 2019 UnionTrack.com - Federal Workers Fight Back: Multiple Unions Sue Trump Administration Over Shutdown

January 23, 2019 USA Today - Weather Forecasts During Government Shutdown

January 23, 2019 CBS Duluth, MN - Government shutdown impacts forecasting of lake effect snow

January 22, 2019 KHON Hawaii - The government shutdown creating public safety concerns at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

January 21, 2019 BBC (story at 31:10) - BBC News Beyond 100 Days at Seven 31/01/2019 MAY BREXIT's PLAN B

January 21, 2019 Twin Cities Pioneer Press - Meteorologists, farmers, park rangers and hungry kids — many in MN feel brunt of shutdown

January 19, 2019 The New York Times - Winter Storm Makes Travel Treacherous and Is Expected to Worsen as It Moves East

January 19, 2019 ABC News 20 Springfield, IL - NWS employees prepare public for snowstorm without pay due to government shutdown

January 19, 2019 The Inquirer / Philly.com - Could airport delays speed up the end of government shutdown?

January 19, 2019 Anchorage Daily News - ‘I’m just really stressed out’: Anchorage feels the effects of federal shutdown entering its fifth week

Jauary 2019 EIN News Desk - Trump Shutdown Stories in All 50 States

January 18, 2019 Earther - The Shutdown Is Making the U.S. Less Prepared for Hurricane Season

January 18, 2019 WAGM Maine - NWS members in Caribou getting nervous as government shutdown continues

January 18, 2019 KRGV Rio Grande Valley, TX - Gov't Shutdown Impacting Preparations for Hurricane Season

January 18, 2019 KTUU Anchorage, AK - It's impossible to predict how long the partial government shutdown will continue, but weather forecasters would like to know

January 18, 2019 Syracuse.com - As National Weather Service provides crucial reports on weekend storm, they’re working for free

January 18, 2019 The New York Times - Major Winter Storm Threatens 80 Million in Midwest and Northeast

January 18, 2019 The New York Times - ‘It’s Making Us Less Prepared’: Shutdown Slows Planning for Hurricanes and Other Disasters

January 18, 2019 NPR - How the Government Shutdown is Affecting Weather Forecasts

January 18, 2019 Government Executive Media Group - Trump’s New Science Adviser Arrived Just in Time for a Shutdown

January 17, 2019 - ABC News 13 Wakefield, VA - How the shutdown is affecting the NWS before the storm

January 17, 2019 - Podcast In The Elements

January 17, 2019 BringMeTheNews.com - 'You feel trapped': The shutdown's impact on Minnesota's weather service

January 17, 2019 WKRN Nashville, TN - Government shutdown postpones research & training in forecasting of dangerous storms

January 17, 2019 WPTV5 West Palm Beach - Hurricane research in jeopardy because of government shutdown

January 16, 2019 People - How Real Government Employees Are Suffering During the Shutdown: 'I Feel Helpless'

January 16, 2019 KUAM News Guam - Guam federal employees feel first missed paycheck

January 16, 2019 WTVF CBS CH 5 Nashville, TN - National Weather Service impacted by shutdown

January 16, 2019 KFAB News Radio Omaha, NE- Some Federal Workers Struggle With Work With No Pay

January 16, 2019 SW News Media Chanhassen, MN - Shutdown strips National Weather Service pay for employees in Chanhassen

January 16, 2019 WBNG Johnson City, NY - Local federal employee weathering government shutdown

January 16, 2019 WKRN Nashville, TN - NWS still performing normal duties during shutdown

January 15, 2019 ABC WNEP16 Moosic, PA - National Weather Service Employees Part of Government Shutdown

January 15, 2019 WKRN Nashville, TN - Local National Weather Service impacted by shutdown

January 15, 2019 NPR - Government Shutdown Stalls Preparedness for the Upcoming Hurricane Season

January 15, 2019 PBS News Hour - Shutdown Takes a Bite out of Business in South Florida

January 15, 2019 WVUE New Orleans, LA - Shutdown May Hurt Hurricane Forecasts

January 14, 2018 NBC Nightly News - Food banks, closed TSA checkpoints, second jobs; Government shutdown enters 24th day

Extended version: Alaska Frontier Faces Widespread Government Shutdown Pain

January 13, 2019 Fox34 Lubbock, TX - Lubbock workers not getting paid during shutdown; unsure how to pay bills

January 13, 2019 The Daily Sentinel Grand Junction, CO - Local watchers weathering the storm

January 12, 2019 USA Today - Government Shutdown sets record as longest in U.S. history. When will it finally end?

January 12, 2019 WAFB Baton Rouge, LA- Government Shutdown Affecting Hurricane Forecasts

January 12, 2019 WKRN Nashville, TN - How does the government shutdown affect..

January 11, 2019 KQED San Francisco, CA - Shutdown Forces Some Bay Area Meteorologists to Work Without Pay

January 11, 2019 WKRN Nashville, TN - How is NWS Impacted by Government Shutdown

January 11, 2019 The Weather Channel - From Weather to Recovery, How the Shutdown affects FEMA and Hurricane Center

January 11, 2019 Wildfire Today - Shutdown affects firefighter hiring, training, fire conferences, and many other programs

January 10, 2019 The Weather Channel - Hurricane Preparedness Government Shutdown

January 10, 2019 Public Radio Nashville, TN- Government Shutdown clip

January 10, 2019 The Hill - Government workers protest outside White House on shutdown day 20

January 9, 2019 The Washington Post - The Weather Service is open 24/7, forecasters are working without pay, it’s taking a toll

January 9, 2019 Scientific American - Another Casualty of the Government Shutdown: Hurricane Preparedness

January 9, 2019 CNN - US more vulnerable to the next hurricane season and other extreme weather as the shutdown wears on

January 9, 2019 Tampa Bay Times - 4 ways you didn’t know the government shutdown is affecting Florida

January 8, 2019 The Palm Beach Post - Government shutdown could hurt hurricane forecasts, delay storm reports

January 7, 2019 Miami Herald - The government shutdown could cast a cloud over hurricane forecasting, other research

January 7, 2019 The Washington Post - The National Weather Service is 'open,' but your forecast is worse because of the shutdown

January 7, 2019 Government Executive - Federal Employees Did not Sign Up to be Shut Down

January 3, 2019 The Washington Post - Hundreds of scientists to miss world’s largest weather conference because of federal shutdown

January 3, 2019 TIME - The Shutdown Won't Stop Weather Forecasts, But It's Creating Problems for the Future

January 3, 2019 The NY Times - Government Shutdown Leaves Workers Reeling: ‘We Seem to Be Pawns’

December 30, 2018 The Weather Channel - Government Shutdown Puts a Cloud Over Global Weather Conference

December 28, 2018 The Salt Lake Tribune - Government shutdown upends scientific research

July 2, 2018 Government Executive - Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Files Brief Supporting Unions' Legal Challenge Against Workforce EOs

June 14, 2018 Bloomberg Businessweek - Trump's Pick to Lead Weather Agency

March 1, 2018 NWSEO Press Release - Fed Arbitrator Rules Dept of Commerce Illegally Term Forecasters' Union Contract

February 14, 2018 WAFF48 Huntsville, AL - Concerns mounting over proposed NWS cuts

February 13, 2018 EENEWS - Weather Service would lose 355 employees under Trump budget

February 13, 2018 Fortune Magazine - Trump Wants to Fire 248 Forecasters at the National Weather Service

February 13, 2018 Weather.com - Trump Administration Proposes Slashing National Weather Service Budget by 8 Percent, Eliminating Hundreds of Jobs

February 12, 2018 Washington Post - Trump Administration Proposes 8 Percent Budget Cut at NWS

January 17, 2018 Fairbanks, Alaska - National Weather Service Reductions to Hit Rural Alaska

2yr Tampa Bay Times - Weather service dismisses union concerns about possible cuts in service

NEWS RELEASE

New Union Lawsuit Against Government over Shutdown

(print copy)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2019
Contact: Steve Lenkart
(202) 216-4458

New Union Lawsuit Against Government over Shutdown

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM), joined with the Machinists Union (IAMAW), National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) SEIU, the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO), and Snider & Associates, LLC, in filing a lawsuit against the federal government in response to the government shutdown. The lawsuit alleges that the government is violating the law by requiring federal employees who are deemed “essential” to work without pay during the partial government shutdown. The unions are requesting compensation for time and overtime worked, and 100 percent matching liquidated damages for all non-exempt FLSA employees.

“This lawsuit is not complicated: We do not believe it is lawful to compel a person to work without paying them,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “In this country, when a worker performs a day’s work, he or she is entitled to a day’s worth of compensation. That is how working people provide for their families. Because of the chaos this wasteful government shutdown is causing, the government is trying to pay people in I.O.U.s. With this lawsuit we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t pay workers with I.O.U.s. That will not work for us.’”

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that all employees covered by the statute be paid on time for any overtime work performed and be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked during the workweek.

“Federal employees, who work in service to the American public ensuring our safety, are just as deserving and entitled to receive timely pay for their work as any other employee,” said NAGE National President David J. Holway. “Having already found to be in violation of the FLSA for similar actions in the 2013 shutdown, the government’s knowing violations here are wholly unreasonable. Federal employees are not pawns, held hostage, at the administration’s whim, it is time to end the shutdown and pay employees what they are owed.”

The lawsuit was filed at the United States Court of Federal Claims at approximately 4:00 PM today, on behalf of thousands of NFFE/NAGE/NWSEO represented federal employees who are required to work even though their agencies have no appropriated funds.

“There are hundreds of men and women who are tracking and commanding our nation’s weather satellites, manning and maintaining our nation's weather radar, and providing crucial weather information to the public which the government is obligated to pay despite the shutdown who are not receiving their wages,” said Richard Hirn, General Counsel of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, “and the law entitles them to damages due to the delay in payment."

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NEWS RELEASE

NWSEO: Federal Arbitrator Rules Department of Commerce Illegally
Terminated Forecasters' Union Contract
(print copy)

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the first major labor showdown of the Trump Administration, Labor Arbitrator Laurence Evans today ruled that the U.S. Department of Commerce illegally terminated its collective bargaining agreement with the National Weather Service Employees Organization, the union that represents the forecasters, technicians and other support personnel at NWS offices nationwide. Evans ordered the National Weather Service to rescind the notice of termination it sent to the union in July 2017.

At the arbitration hearing, held last December in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Deputy Director of the National Weather Service testified that the decision to terminate the union's contract was made in consultation with and received the personal approval of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.  The NWS and the union are engaged in negotiating a successor to their 2001 collective bargaining agreement. Arbitrator Evans ruled that the agency's termination violated the 2001 agreement which is to stay in force until negotiations for a successor agreement are completed.

The union and the National Weather Service are in a pitched battle over the Administration's proposal to cut the NWS workforce and close forecast offices at night. The President's FY 19 budget request, submitted to Congress last month, proposes to eliminate 20% of all the forecasters at the nation's 122 forecast offices. At the arbitration hearing, the Deputy Director of the NWS testified that the agency was seeking a new contract with the union in order to give it the flexibility to implement these planned changes.

Contact: Richard Hirn 202-255-3141

SOURCE National Weather Service Employees Organization

Related Links

https://nwseo.org

 

NEWS RELEASE

President's Budget will create a "Perfect Storm"
for Weather Forecasts and Warnings

Contains 8% cut to National Weather Service funding and elimination of hundreds of forecasters

February 13, 2018

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The President's budget acknowledges the importance of NWS to protecting lives and property-

"Advance notice provided by weather forecasts enables the Nation's leaders, decision makers, and media to provide better warnings and advisories to first responders, the public, and businesses. Getting this right reduces the catastrophic loss of human life and property and the damaging effects on the national economy."

Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget - Fiscal Year 2019, at 30. However, the President's budget proposes a cut of 8% to funding for the National Weather Service next fiscal year, compared to FY 2017 enacted levels ($1,191 million vs. $1,097 million). See Appendix to Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 at 190-92.

These savings will be achieved by cutting 355 additional forecasters and other operational staff beyond the hundreds of operational positions that are already vacant, and closing forecast offices at night and weekends.

The National Weather Service will no longer be able to issue reliable forecasts or timely warnings of severe weather if these cuts are implemented, according to the union that represents the 3,500 forecasters and technicians at National Weather Service offices and forecasting centers nationwide.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, "the quality of the NWS's warning capability corresponds with its capacity to muster an ample, fully trained local staff at its Weather Forecast Offices as severe weather unfolds." However, in May, 2017 the Government Accountability Office released a study that revealed that the vacancy rate in NWS operational units had reached a point where NWS employees are "unable at times to perform key tasks." The GAO found that the vacancy rate in operational units that issue forecasts and warnings rose from 5 percent at the end of fiscal year 2010 (211 positions) to 11 percent at the end of fiscal year 2016 (455 positions). The GAO also found that NWS "staff experienced stress, fatigue and reduced morale resulting from their efforts to cover for vacancies" due to lack of time off and a loss of training.

"We can't take any more cuts and still do the job that the American public needs us to do – there simply will not be the staff available on duty to issue the forecasts and warnings upon which the country depends," said Dan Sobien, President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

contact Daniel Sobien 202-907-3036
Richard Hirn  202-255-3141

SOURCE National Weather Service Employees Organization

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