May 1, 2012

Senate Committee Passes Agriculture Specialist Bill
A Senate committee last week passed NTEU-supported legislation that recognizes the important work of Agriculture Specialists and addresses their concerns.

  Vigil Video
  Watch highlights of NTEU's candlelight vigil honoring fallen CBP Officers.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved an amendment by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) that creates an Agriculture Specialist career track within CBP with criteria for qualified CBP Technicians to be promoted to Agriculture Specialist positions.

In addition, it provides education and training for promotion within the new career track; creates a recruitment and retention plan; provides equipment support; and authorizes an interagency rotation program between CBP and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Prior to the vote, Kelley sent a letter to each committee member asking for support of the Akaka amendment. NTEU is seeking similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Telework at CBP
By The Numbers

8,587 Employees eligible to telework

1,488 Employees with approved NTEU telework agreements

39.5% Percentage of eligible employees currently teleworking

1% Increase in teleworking employees from April 31 to March 31

76 Employees whose telework applications have been denied

While CBP is making progress in increasing the number of teleworking employees, NTEU is continuing to work to ensure that as many eligible workers can participate as possible.

Source: CBP telework status report, March 31, 2012


Bargaining Begins Over Centers Of
Excellence and Expertise Initiative

NTEU brought employee concerns to the table last week when bargaining began over CBP’s proposal to create Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs), which are intended to change the way the agency does trade enforcement and facilitation.

CBP has proposed establishing CEEs throughout the nation after piloting the concept with the Information Technology and Consumer Electronics CEE in Los Angeles and the Pharmaceuticals, Health and Chemicals CEE in New York City. Employees have expressed a number of concerns about the centers, including whether they will reduce staffing for all positions involved in trade facilitation and enforcement in general and especially at smaller ports of entry.

Other employee concerns relate to interfering with the quality of work currently provided by the National Import Specialists by distributing the Specialists among the various CEEs and by reducing the resources provided to those ports and personnel handling high-risk importers. Another issue raised was about what kind of roles, if any, the National Import Specialist Assistants, ORR attorneys and the National Commodity Division would have in the CEE concept.  

Workspace Improvements for Officers at Airports
CBP Officers working at airports undergoing construction or remodeling will see improvements in their workspaces under an agreement NTEU secured.

The revised Airport Technical Design Standards address concerns employees previously raised. They mandate additional leg space for officers and adjustable risers so the employee can maintain eye level with passengers.

In addition, computers will be required to have privacy inserts, frosted glass will separate customs stations and there will be enhanced camera coverage in the primary processing area.



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