February 21, 2015
The Chief of the Border Patrol Michael J. Fisher has released a memorandum detailing the agencies plan to decertify All GS-1896 series employees (Border Patrol Agents) from earning Administrative Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO). In the memorandum it states that the Agency and the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) have discussed a transition plan. The memorandum is misleading in that it gives the impression that this was agreed to by the NBPC and not only did NBPC agree, but NBPC was happy with the results and will not be pursuing the matter further.
I assure you this is not the case. The Agency and Chief Fisher have been intent on decertifying the remainder of the workforce. This is the fulfillment of their wish to get out from under the scrutiny of the multiple agencies that continue to investigate the Office of Border Patrol (OBP) and our use of AUO. It should be noted that in all of those investigation it was shown that Border Patrol Agents were working the hours that they claimed. The legal point of contention is whether or not those hours should be classified as AUO. This “Overtime Transition Plan” or “Bridge to Nowhere Plan” may save the Chief some time and energy, but it will hurt the agents and the union immensely!
The Agency can legally decertify agents. As most agents know we are certified on a yearly basis. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Chief Fisher was in San Diego February 13, 2015. When asked about this decertification he stated that it would give the agency more flexibility and avoid the ongoing investigations. After about 5 minutes into his explanation I realized this was the same reason I had heard over the years for why we were paid AUO and not overtime. It seems to me as the head of the agency, you shouldn't be afraid of investigations and you should fight for what is right for your troops. That is what I thought leaders did. If Chief Fisher’s goal is to avoid investigations, he is in the wrong line of work!
To answer the question we've been getting, “What is the union doing about it?” The NBPC and Local 1613 will continue to fight this transition plan. We have and continue to speak with Congress and express our displeasure with the way Agents are being treated. For the last 3 years agents have been mistreated and bullied by this agency. Our morale is the lowest in the federal government and Chief Fisher has stated that he can’t change that. Not the answer I want to hear from the leader of my agency. We will fight this by bargaining to the full extent of the law. We will lobby congress to ensure CBP provides the information needed by OPM to write the regulations to implement BPAPRA as soon as possible. We will work to ensure this “plan” has as minimal impact on the retirement of our agents as possible. That is done by making sure this “plan” is not in effect for long and BPAPRA is implemented ASAP.
On the horizon:
OPM has yet to determine if the Agency can make Agents FLSA exempt prior to the full implementation of the BPAPRA. If OPM sides with the agency and says they can agents will be paid FEPA (time and a half but a maximum of what it would be for a GS10/1) under this plan and not 45 act (Time and a half based on your actual GS Level).
The agency is also looking into making it so that there are no excludable days even after BPAPRA is implemented.
I reiterate for emphasis, NBPC and Local 1613 do not and never will agree with the decertification of all agents!