The first phase of the de-authorization announced yesterday specifically targeted areas that OSC identified in its 2008 and 2013 reports. The only exceptions were the Laredo North and Lyndon (now presumed to be Sumas) Washington, Border Patrol Stations. Due to the field activities being performed at the two stations, a waiver was requested, and the Union will learn more about the waivers this Friday. There is no doubt that these stations perform work that qualifies for AUO and therefore, de-authorization is not appropriate. As such, If DHS denies the waiver request, the Union will have no choice but to take appropriate action, which in turn will cost the Agency a substantial amount of money in lost wages and attorney’s fees when the Union prevails.
The OSC investigations have also caused DHS to look at all positions earning AUO and as Mrs. Emerson testified yesterday, a position-by-position analysis for all components is due by February 15. This position-by-position analysis will no doubt show that non-FLSA earning managers do not qualify for AUO. Due to DHS using OSCs interpretation of AUO, many essential support positions filled by bargaining unit employees will also not qualify for AUO, such as but not limited to: Training instructors, intel, vco, prosecutions, data management, sector details, public relations, liaison units, and checkpoint operations (unless working walk-arounds or similar activities). Although these positions provide essential support to the field, the Agency will have difficulty filling these positions in the future if they are now ineligible for AUO. Furthermore, DHS is putting together a list of acceptable activities allowable under their interpretation of the law that can be performed during AUO. In a nutshell, if it isn’t irregular and can be controlled by scheduling, it isn’t AUO.
Example: If agents on swing shift at station B are constantly chasing groups of illegal aliens and narcotics traffickers at the end of their shift that causes them to REGULARLY work AUO it is deemed a scheduling issue and the agency must adjust accordingly.
The ramifications this will have on the security of our nation’s borders are huge. The decision by DHS to interpret the AUO law based on the direction of OSC will be equivalent to the loss of at least 5,000 full time employees. In addition to the loss of 5,000 agents, the Agency will be forced to create at least four shifts at every station, which will reduce the number of agents in the field at any given time further causing the loss of an additional 1,500 agents and unnecessarily jeopardizing the safety of the agents. The total net loss will be 6,500 agents for a manpower intensive strategy.
Congress mandated that the Border Patrol maintain a workforce of at least 21,370 agents to cover all of the land borders of the United States. They did this knowing agents have always worked ten-hour days. Notwithstanding Congress’ intent, these hours will now be cut to eight. Under these extreme cuts, our agents will never be able to secure the borders and the American public will suffer. This is unacceptable, and we are working as hard as we can to convince the appropriate authorities that this is not the way to do business!
It is our understanding that a massive exodus of experienced agents will continue this year. Many retirement eligible agents left during the last pay period of 2013 because they saw this train wreck coming. With the looming decertification there is little reason to stick around if you are eligible for retirement. When you can make about the same amount of money in retirement that you do working (annuity, FERS supplement and TSP), it makes little sense not to retire and do something else. However, many have believed for years now that the plan of this Administration was to drive off the most senior agents. It is believed that none of this is about border security or protecting the American people, it’s all about political agendas, implementing another massive amnesty program, voter registration drives and retaining power.