Federal Times Blogs

Kelley wins fourth term as NTEU president

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Kelley (photo from NTEU)

Colleen Kelley was elected to her fourth four-year term as president of the National Treasury Employees Union last night.

Delegates to NTEU’s national convention chose Kelley overwhelmingly over challenger Eddie Walker. About 86 percent of votes were cast for Kelley.

Kelley pledged to keep fighting political attacks on federal employees, and to get agencies to provide enough personnel, equipment and other resources so employees can do their jobs properly.

“I am honored by the privilege to continue my efforts to move NTEU forward, to help ensure the voices of federal employees are heard in Congress and in their agencies, and to work to see that the public recognizes the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the federal workforce,” Kelley said.

Walker criticized Kelley for losing the election to represent Transportation Security Administration employees, and said that under her leadership, NTEU has not pushed hard enough for employees.

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Last day to vote for TSA union

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A TSA agent directs travelers through security lines at Pittsburgh International Airport. (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

Today is the last day to vote in the runoff election to decide which union will represent some 43,000 Transportation Security Administration screeners. Voters can choose between the American Federation of Government Employees or the National Treasury Employees Union.

The first election, in which screeners could also choose “no union,” ended inconclusively when nobody received a clear majority. Voters do not have the option of choosing no union this time. AFGE had a slight advantage in the first election’s results, and received 274 more votes than NTEU.

Eligible voters can cast their ballots online or over the phone until 11:59 p.m. tonight. The votes will be tallied on Thursday. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

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TSA runoff election begins May 23

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A TSA agent directs travelers through security lines at Pittsburgh International Airport. (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

The Federal Labor Relations Authority yesterday set the Transportation Security Administration’s runoff election to begin May 23. The voting period will end June 21, and the votes will be tallied June 23.

The election will decide whether the American Federation of Government Employees or the National Treasury Employees Union will represent some 43,000 TSA screeners. The first vote — a three-way campaign between AFGE, NTEU and “no union” — ended inconclusively when nobody received a clear majority.

The first election’s results were very close, with AFGE received 274 more votes than NTEU. Voters will not have the option of selecting “no union” in the runoff election. Like the first election, screeners voting in the runoff will cast their ballots over the phone or online. FLRA will mail election packages to screeners May 23, which will include instructions and identification numbers necessary to vote.

Both unions’ leaders say they expect to win the runoff. AFGE’s John Gage said:

AFGE won the first round of a fierce contest against a worthy opponent. We expect to win the runoff election as well and are pleased that FLRA has cleared the way for a swift resolution to this process. I’m asking TSOs to come out and vote for us one more time. We’re one step closer to bringing you a better workplace.

NTEU’s Colleen Kelley said:

NTEU looks forward to the runoff election. We are confident our record of accomplishments and our program for their future will lead TSA officers to elect NTEU to help them improve their work lives and their workplaces. We have got the momentum. It is a dead heat, and we are going to pull ahead.

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Fun Facts about the 2008 presidential election

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Yes, Election Day was two days ago. And the presidential election was 365 days ago. But the Election Assistance Commission only released the results of its 2008 Election Administration and Voting Survey and its 2008 Uniformed and Overseas Voting Act Survey today.

The commission took the last year to quiz election officials, academics, community groups and voters from the 50 states, four territories and the District of Columbia. It found:

  • More than 190 million Americans were registered to vote, a 14 million voter increase since 2004.
  • Nearly 700,000 Americans used an online form to register to vote.
  • More than 878,000 poll workers staffed approximately 132,000 polling places nationwide.
  • Approximately 61 percent of voters cast their ballots in person at the polling station on Election Day; 17 percent used domestic absentee ballots; 13 percent voted early; 1.3 percent cast provisional ballots; and 0.7 percent sent in absentee ballots from overseas. (The balance falls into the very informative “other” and “not categorized”  categories)
  • Approximately 1 million ballots were sent to military personnel and citizens overseas. Of those, 69 percent were returned and 93.6 percent of those returned were counted.
  • At home, 26 million absentee ballots were distributed and 91 percent were returned and counted.
  • Electronic touch-screen machines were the most common type of voting equipment used in 2008, with 23 states reporting 218,370 touch-screen machines in use. However, the optical scan voting systems are more widespread, with 43 states using them. However, there were only 107,519 optical scanners in use.

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Vote early. Vote often. Just vote.

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Happy Election Day Feds! It is finally here. The day you get to pick your new boss.

We here at FedLine cast our ballots this morning and can report turnout is heavy at the polling stations inside the Beltway. This reporter stood in line for 62 minutes to make her choice, which seemed pretty speedy given the fact that there were 210 people ahead of her when she started.

If you’ve headed to the polls today, or are on your way later, we want to hear from you.

Did you choose McCain? Obama? A third party candidate? How will your choice affect your office? What issues influenced what lever you pulled, button you pressed or bubble you filled? How were conditions at your polling stations?

If you are not voting at all, tell us why not.

Finally, if you need help finding your polling station, just click here.

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Feds: Time to choose a new boss

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Hard to believe, but after nearly two years of campaigning, we’re just 24 hours away from voting for a new president.

Voter turnout tomorrow is expected to reach record highs — so be prepared to spend some time waiting in line at your polling place. Not sure where that is?

Maryland: Polls are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Check your polling place here.

Virginia: Polls are open from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. Check your polling place here.

District of Columbia: Polls are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Check your polling place here.

(If you live outside the D.C. metro area, go here and choose your state.)

Remember: As long as you’re in line before polls close, you will be allowed to vote.

Not sure when you can get to the polling place? Federal employees are entitled to time off to vote, but only if the polls are not open at least three hours before or after an employee’s regular work hours.

What does that mean for you? Well, if you work a 9-5 schedule, and you live in Maryland or D.C., you’re allowed to show up for work at 10:00 — giving you three hours to vote in the morning. If you live in Virginia, though, you don’t get any time off, because the polls open three hours before your work day begins.

OPM has more information on its Web site.

Still have questions? Leave a comment — we’ll be checking back here throughout the day.

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Feds split on choice for next president

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While national polls consistently show Democratic Sen. Barack Obama leading Republican Sen. John McCain in the presidential race — anywhere from 2 percent to 15 percent — federal employees who will be working under the next commander-in-chief are decidedly less certain.

According to an unscientific poll currently running on the Federal Times website, Obama and McCain are tied at 45 percent of the vote.  More than 2,000 readers have responded as of Wednesday morning.

Among the remaining respondents, 5 percent are undecided and another 2 percent say they plan to vote for another candidate. Perhaps most interestingly, 3 percent say they don’t plan to vote at all. This makes me wonder, are some feds really so apathetic that they don’t think it matters who’s in the Oval Office? If I was allowed to vote for my next boss, I’m sure I’d have an opinion.

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Other duties as assigned: pick president

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Many jobs in federal government have what are lovingly termed “other duties as assigned.” But acting General Services Administration chief Jim Williams has discovered that his “other duties” may be the most important of all.

In a speech during the GEIA Vision Conference today, Williams mentioned that one little known duty of his office is to declare an apparent winner of the presidential election on Nov. 4.

Since the Electoral College won’t meet to officially declare a president-elect until Dec. 15, GSA needs to name an apparent winner so the agency can move forward quickly with its transition duties in the slim 77-day time period between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20, Williams said.

 From my perspective I don’t care who wins. I just don’t want it to be close, because the administrator has to pick a winner and hand over the keys and say ‘Let’s get started.’

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Advice for the next president, whoever he is

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Election Day is still two weeks away, but the next president already has good-government groups lining up to offer advice.

The latest is the Project on Government Oversight, which today issued a set of recommendations for the next president. Many of them are obvious good-government suggestions, but many also come at opportune times.

POGO points out, for example, that the government’s oversight and regulatory role has been “decimated” in recent years. Given the recent scandals at the Minerals Management Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, that’s not an overstatement.

There’s also a call for inspectors general to have more independence from their agency heads. The IG bill passed by Congress (pdf) earlier this month is a promising start; it gives IGs a stronger voice in requesting their budget, and makes them harder to remove from office.

The group also called on the next president to “strengthen federal employee whistleblower protections.” Given POGO’s longstanding criticism of Special Counsel Scott Bloch, that’s probably a call for the next president to quickly appoint a replacement.

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