June 17, 2011

Personal Appearance Standards Update
NTEU Reaches Agreement on Tattoos, Sunglasses and Facial Hair
There is good news in NTEU's long-running efforts regarding Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) personal appearance standards.

The parties have reached a favorable agreement on three key issues after NTEU raised concerns about CBP's interpretation of contract language on tattoos. NTEU brought its case to high-level management after CBP implemented a new policy requiring uniformed employees to cover all tattoos. During these discussions, NTEU raised the issue of disparate treatment when it comes to who may wear wrap-around sunglasses and the parties worked to clarify the provision on facial hair.

CBP officerHere are highlights of the agreement:

  • NTEU-represented employees are permitted to wear wrap-around sunglasses.

  • Tattoos need not be covered unless they are "obscene, racially motivated or gang-related."

  • Facial hair in any "extreme or unconventional styles" is not permitted, nor is beard stubble. However, "the requirement to present a clean-shaven face shall not be misconstrued to prevent an employee an opportunity to grow facial hair or groom, shape and maintain facial hair."

NTEU will continue working to ensure management properly enforces the provisions, particularly those on facial hair.

DHS Labor-Management Forum Convenes Meeting
Telework and investigatory interview due process rights were the topics for discussion at a May meeting of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Labor-Management Forum.

Co-chair and NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley helped kick off the meeting, which included five NTEU chapter presidents who are members of the Forum. Forum members were briefed by the DHS Telework Task Force, which includes an NTEU representative. The task force is working to gather data on the current state of telework programs at DHS and to expand telework eligibility to more employees.

Forum members also discussed concerns raised that the DHS Office of Inspector General was not acting in a timely manner and should follow procedures for conducting investigations similar to those NTEU and CBP negotiated.

The next meeting of the DHS Labor-Management Forum is scheduled for Aug. 31.

There is also a CBP Labor-Management Forum that President Kelley co-chairs with CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin.

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