NTEU hopeful of change from Obama administration

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Federal employees are hopeful of dramatic improvements in policy that include  reduced outsourcing of work and much more support for collective bargaining efforts under President-elect Barack Obama’s upcoming administration, the president of a federal employees' union said today.

Among the union's top priorities are getting collective bargaining rights for workers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and eliminating outsourcing of tax collections by the Internal Revenue Service, Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), said in a conference call with reporters.

Other goals include hiring more federal employees at the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies, reducing the number of federal contracts by $40 billion or more, and increasing transparency in government contracting, she said.

NTEU has received indications of support from the Obama transition and already sees a major shift in how federal employees are likely to be viewed in the Obama administration in comparison with the Bush administration, Kelley said.

“There is a very, very different tone,” Kelley said. “What we have seen in the last eight years has been nothing to support federal employees or the work they do. Sen. Obama refers to federal employees as an asset that needs to be valued and respected.”

NTEU released its 52-page agenda, titled "Refocusing Federal Agencies on Mission-Critical Issues: The Federal Employees’ View,” on its Web site today. The union makes several recommendations for administrative and legislative actions.

The recommendations include:

• Giving TSA employees collective bargaining rights and moving them to the same pay system as most other federal employees.

• Issuing an executive order that would re-establish a federal-sector labor/management partnership.

• Directing all federal agencies to review all of their service contracts, cancel those found to be unnecessary and, in two years, bring any inefficient, wasteful or inherently governmental contracts back in-house.

• Ending the IRS' use of private tax collectors.

• Requiring that the Office of Personnel Management apply for the prescription drug subsidy available to all employers that provide health care benefits.

NTEU also advocated rescinding an Office of Management and Budget memorandum that requires only employees with direct interests be agents in protests of competitive-sourcing contracts.

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