Social media warning from our Attorney

August 11th, 2016

imageAgents need to exercise caution when participating in social media outlets. There have been a number of cases involving inappropriate posts that resulted in proposed discipline by the Service. Although afforded some protection by the First Amendment, social media posts are still subject to review by the Service to determine if there is a connection with a BPA’s job and, if so, whether such posts evidence a violation of policy. Some common problem areas:

•Posts that evidence a violation of law or policy,
•Posts that show the faces of BPAs or detainees
•Posts that publish Service policies, manuals, directives or other internal documents
•Posts displaying BP uniforms or insignia in a sexual manner, usually on dating sites
•Posts that publicize a previously unknown incident that is embarrassing to the Service
•Posts that express a bias or hatred to identifiable group

BP Management is of the opinion that beyond a handful of agents, such pages cannot be secured because there is no way to know who is being invited and who might be motivated to alert the media or an immigrant rights group. BP Managers also worry that BPAs can be impeached in court proceedings by their own social media postings. While sometimes funny, such postings can also be interpreted as evidencing a bias or worse against the groups encountered in the field. Union members should review the current CBP social media policy and they should act with caution when using social media. The question to ask: “What would happen if I hit the send button and the images and statements are made public?” As an NBPC lawyer, I can tell you that I’ve represented many agents who were put in the embarrassing situations by either a social media post or text message.

Be careful out there.

– Jim Calle

TCA Management making it happen…finally!

July 18th, 2016

Good job to CAG and Tucson Mangement.

For years, CAG Agents have basically been parking in a dirt lot. We have continually complained about these to conditions to anyone who would listen and they finally have.

The parking facility is finally getting paved, thanks to real leadership.

Now let’s get the FOB’s closed!!!

New BP Chief is appointed

July 14th, 2016

imageA recent Texas Tribune article documented several key Border Patrol leaders having improper relationships, possibly misusing government funds, and engaging in assault. But the article only scratched the surface. Local 2544 has complained for years about miscreant BP managers who get away with wrist slaps or nothing for misconduct typically resulting in suspensions or worse for line agents. Some of these managers are then subsequently promoted. These double standards have existed for years and continue to this day.

How can such hypocrisy exist in a self-proclaimed “professional” law enforcement organization? The answer is that the Border Patrol promotes mediocrity! The Agency no longer looks for field managers who have true leadership qualities or managers who look out for their subordinates. It prefers managers who have proven themselves in administrative positions or as project managers. Long past are the days of “go-getters” getting promoted. Today it is about test scores and resumes. Working on a specialty unit in administrative or field operations is given far greater weight than field experience working side by side with agents. We will concede there are some great second and third-line managers and a few more among the command staff but they are few and far between. The Border Patrol, since Chief Aguilar, has been more concerned with who has the best image, who fits our team, who will take orders and not question the reasoning, and for that you need the proverbial “house mouse.” The “house mouse” is a manager who loathes working the field and will do anything to stay in the office and and be a “yes-man.” The house mouse will spend countless hours promoting their petty projects to show their relevance to their bosses. They agree to anything and everything, as long as one of their superiors suggested it and it keeps them out of the field. And that’s who gets promoted. The house mouse manager is also the one who targets hard working Agents for any wrong doing. By doing this, it demonstrates their ability to conform with upper-Mangement. We have even heard of these managers bragging about how many Agents they have written up, for the smallest infraction. The house mouse has forgotten what it is like to work a 12-hour shift. They are frustrated when agents scratch or dents a government vehicle because they were actually working in rugged terrain. They have no understanding of what it is like to walk for hours and lose a baton or a GPS. The daily grind of working in harsh conditions is foreign to the house mouse manager. In-turn, they inflate the egos of their superiors, who then  believe everything they do or say is great. The manager is now surrounded by drones, who do and say anything the manager wants. This would include illicit behavior.

One only has to look at the amount of Operations Officers who reside at Sector Headquarters or in DC and participate in kingdom building. They have lost touch with real Agents and their values. They surround themselves with house mouse managers, who support them at all cost. They begin to believe they are untouchable. They believe they can do no wrong. And when they are caught, they are shocked that they have to play by the rules. Why should they? Every house mouse under them has continually whispered in their ear how great they were and how everything they have done is good to go. Tucson Sector has been filled with these managers for years.

The appointment of Mark Morgan as Chief of the Border Patrol marks a new era in the Patrol’s history. It remains to be seen if Mr. Morgan will begin looking at his own managers to clean house or whether he will allow hard-working agents trying to do their job to continue being the targets of the house mouse manager.

Read article HERE

Member Notification – update your personal info

July 12th, 2016

We are encouraging all members to update their personal information with AFGE.

You can update your information here:

www.afge.org

 

Swaps open July 18, 2016

July 11th, 2016

swapsThe USBP Nationwide Swap Program (NWS) will open on July 18, 2016 @ 2:00 pm Central – August 1, 2016 @ 2:00 pm Central

Employees will have the ability to submit up to 7 locations from a list of available duty stations. There will be no preference of choice. All choices will be considered as a location the employee is willing to move to. All selections are made on the basis of seniority.

As with the previous announcement, employees will receive an email informing them of the location they have been paired with. Employees will have 5 days to respond. Employees who decline the pairing will be removed from the current announcement. Employees who are impacted by their partner declining, will have their name placed back into the program for second round of pairings and possibly a third round of parinings

As per the April 28, 2105 MOU employees will considered eligible:

• Has served a minimum of three (3) years as a BPA, is not the subject of any pending performance or disciplinary action, or is the subject of an investigation of alleged misconduct, that may prevent the performance of the full scope of the required duties;

• Has not received or been subject to three or more disciplinary actions (reprimand to fourteen (14) days suspensions), or a single adverse action (suspension of more than fourteen (14) days) within the last two (2) years;

Is not under a Last Chance Agreement; and

Has fulfilled any time-in-station requirements associated with any previously approved relocation or assignment.

Employees who are submitting for the NWS, should strongly consider the personal cost and commitment it takes to relocate under this program and the impact it has on their fellow co-workers. Employees should only put in for locations that they truly want and willing to relocate to.

An announcement will be placed on the CBPnet’s USBP homepage giving more information and a link to the NWS site. Employees will not have request access to the site prior to it opening. Employees should carefully read and understand the conditions and requirements before submitting their names for this program. Employees should take great care when entering their data, to ensure it is correct.

As with the prior solicitaiton, we will have the Potential Opening Tabultion Table (POTT). The POTT will allow employees to see all employees who are putting in for their station. The POTT does not guarentte any employee a swap but should only be used as a tool to guage interest.

Verizon plan – UPDATE!

July 5th, 2016

imageExciting news! Effective today, July 5th, 2016 Verizon has brought back the old Unlimited Data plans for all lines on our account. Our accounts qualify for the following:
Unlimited data for smartphones and jetpacks (VZW may reduce your data throughout speeds when connected to a congested cell site. The reduction can last for the remainder of the current bill cycle and the immediately following bill cycle to ensure high quality network performance for others at locations and times of peak demand)
Monthly and Quarterly equipment promotions
25% discount on accessories
Upgrade eligibility every 10 months
1 year contract
No activation fees
Free shipping
*Due to the nature of changes on our account, please remember that users cannot purchase or receive service in retail store locations or customer service center.

Don’t fear the polygraph, fear the examiner!

June 28th, 2016

imageThee polygraph con-job continues!

DHS continues to stand behind polygraph examinations for new Agents. Clearly, polygraphs have discovered some people who are disqualified because they are less than forthcoming with relevant background information. But what happens when the examiner has a hidden agenda?

In light of DHS’ position, the only remaining conclusion is that it is intentionally failing applicants to keep the Border Patrol understaffed!

In 2010, Director for CBP Internal Affairs James Tomsheck testified at Senate sub-committee that the CBP polygraph failure rate was 60%. Although DHS has refused to update that number in any public statement, we believe the polygraph failure rate is now around 80%, especially for potential employees who reside in a border state. But what applicants are failing during the polygraph exams and why remain a mystery. However, the one consistent fact discerned from interviews of applicants who failed the exams appears to be the bias of the polygraph examiner.

A recent Border Patrol applicant gave us a very precise account of their experience with one examiner in Arizona that left us puzzled and raised questions about the professionalism of these examiners.

“The polygraph examiner came into the room and began to explain to me how important the polygraph was and how high the internal crime rate was in the Border Patrol. The examiner also stated that Border Patrol Agents in the field were against the polygraph and the examiner believed it was for a certain reason.”

Can it get more clear cut than that! The very first thing the examiner asserts is how high the internal crime rate is within the Border Patrol. He then says that Border Patrol Agents are against such exams. This latter statement is true but not because we are opposed to investigations or fact-finding. Agents are against polygraphs because decades of studies have established that they are insufficiently reliable as a truth-discerning tool. Supporters forward junk science to bolster their claims for the reliability of polygraphs when actual science has established that the government should not rely on them for important decisionmaking. Despite numerous attempts, state and federal courts continue to preclude polygraph examinations as evidence in court.

But why would a polygraph examiner make these comments? Why introduce this type of conversation into an applicants pre-screening? We have heard the same about examiners in other states. They apparently believe that all Border Patrol Agents are dirty and, of course, that anyone wanting to be a Border Patrol Agent must also be dirty. So who monitors the examiners, who checks their work, who ensures they are doing their job correctly?

In the end, certain questions remain unanswered. Why is BP applicants failing at such high rates? What part of the polygraph examination are they failing? Are there legitimate integrity issues or are polygraph examiners barring applicants from the Academy because of some hunch of wrongdoing? And why do so many Border Patrol applicants who fail go on to find jobs with other law enforcement agencies that also employ pre-employment polygraphs? At a time when the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector is in need of about 600 agents, the Agency should question whether its polygraph examiners are employing the best practices available or are acting as an artificial bar to Border Patrol employment.

 

Do as I say, not as I do

June 28th, 2016

Microsoft Word - Document1So here we are are again, another DHS employee caught up in an email scandle. What will be their discipline? Will it be a counseling statement, days off, termination? Most likely not,  because this employee has been exempted from the department wide ban on checking personal email from a government computer. But how can an employee be exempt from a policy, it’s easy! Just say you like to check your email at work and you get an exemption and of course, be the Secretary of DHS.

This type of action is not new to the Border Patrol Agents in the field, we see such things happen all the time. Managers skipping mandatory training, excluding themselves from reading and initialing policy changes or mandating job assignments they would never do themselves. But in a day and age, where the ability to check your personal email is just one touch away on a “smart phone”, it makes you wonder how smart our top leaders are.

As a reminder: employees of DHS should not conduct any personal business on a government computer…unless you are Jeh “LEAD BY EXAMPLE” Johnson.

Read more HERE

Polygraph con-job

June 14th, 2016

polyUnder the leadership of David Aguilar the Border Patrol made some questionable hires in past years. Aguilar dropped standards, lowered expectations, shortened the Academy, told us we weren’t “immigration officers”, said our job wasn’t to arrest illegal aliens and was widely considered a one man wrecking crew for Border Patrol morale. He could write a book on bad hiring practices. This is no reflection on the good men and women hired when Aguilar was running things. We all come in under the conditions that are present when we’re hired. Nothing any of us can do about it.

Several years ago it was decided that CBP would implement polygraph testing to weed out bad apples such as those that Aguilar let slip in. But what has really happened?

Polygraphs are junk science. They are ripe for abuse by overzealous people who administer them with a certain agenda and only have to say, “I don’t believe you.” or “I don’t think you’re telling me everything.” to terminate a new hire. No avenue of appeal, no new background investigation, no follow up at all…just an “opinion” by a person who has been made judge, jury and executioner. We have heard failure rates for Border Patrol hires of 70% to 80% and possibly higher failure rates among applicants that reside on the southwest border as compared to the rest of the country.  The poly-con administration is of course a super secret organization and we’re not sure who they report to. On the surface you may think that those who fail the polygraph are all bad people who should never wear a Border Patrol uniform and cannot be trusted. But we have been hearing one story after another for years about poly-con testing that are extremely troubling and raises several questions about its legitimacy.

In government there is a longstanding abuse called “kingdom building”. That takes place when a new program or idea comes around and certain government employees decide they need to show how valuable said program is, no matter how worthless the program may really be. There is often a self-interest involved with the employee because they don’t want to do the job they were hired for or they just want to show how valuable their new program is to keep a job that is virtually worthless. In the business world none of these people and programs would survive because they produce nothing of real value. But in government, real results often take a back seat to other considerations. This is just a fact. CBP has never in its history used poly-con testing for new hires until recently. So what is the goal? Is it to truly weed out bad people or is it to build a kingdom by showing how effective and wonderful the poly-con program is? We would argue it’s the latter, hands down.

For example, a military intel officer with two tours in the middle east working at finding terrorist and terrorist cells is repeatedly asked about his “association with known terrorists”. Well, his job in the military, was to gather information on terrorists and distribute that information. But wait, the poly-con person keeps saying that he doesn’t believe this military veteran, who is telling him everything. The military veteran has a spotless military record and has already passed every other test to get into the Border Patrol, including a background investigation. After grilling this military vet for hours the poly-con person dismisses him because he thinks this former Military Officer is being dishonest and sees to it that his employment offer is terminated. All this based on junk science with no right of appeal and absolutely no way for this decorated military veteran to set the record straight and the Border Patrol loses a potential great employee.

We have heard about applicants being detained by the poly-con man for 8 or 9 hours straight as they hammer away at a petty issue. And we say “petty issues”, we aren’t talking about rape, murder, burglary or other serious issues, we’re talking about whether the applicant drank to excess a few times when they were a teenager and other similar things. And worse, the applicant may very well be telling the truth, but the poly-con person is a master of confusing the issue, making the applicant think they know something they don’t and generally fostering seeds of doubt in the applicant’s mind. For example, applicants know that background investigators have already talked to their friends, family and acquaintances prior to the poly-con test. What did those people say? Did one of them try to throw a monkey wrench in the hiring because of a past grudge? This is how it works. We have also heard of polygraph examiners telling potential hires that they cannot wait till they can start giving polygraphs to current Border Patrol Agents, “because they all have something to hide”.  A perfectly honest person can easily fail a polygraph test and a mass murderer can pass a polygraph test. They are junk science and are inadmissible in court for a reason.

We have received one email and phone call after another from frustrated agents who have been privy to this abuse by the poly-con folks. Further, we know of some applicants whose applications were terminated by CBP polygraph administrators and then went on to pass a polygraph test from another law enforcement agency that resulted in their hiring. How does this happen? How can a person fail a Border Patrol polygraph and then pass another law enforcement agency’s polygraph? Who is reviewing the work of the polygraph examiners working for CBP and how are they held accountable? We submit that they are not held accountable. As previously mentioned, they are judge, jury and executioner when it comes a Border Patrol applicant’s hiring process. They are given the power to stop careers based on a whim, a personal dislike or any other “reason”. We have also heard from many who believe the poly-con program is being used by the Obama Administration to slow the hiring of Border Patrol agents. That’s right, we have reason to believe that the current administration is encouraging the failure of polygraphs to further their immigration agenda. We are well aware that the administration does not truly want to fully staff the Border Patrol and give us the Agents we need to do the job. This “junk science” is only one way they use to stop the hiring of potentially great employees.

In closing, we know for a fact that many accomplished veteran Border Patrol agents would have NEVER been hired had they been subjected to the current polygraph examinations. Not because they are bad people or that they were criminals before they applied to become Border Patrol agents, but because the poly-con kingdom has a track record of simply failing the majority of the applicants they interview based on their “opinion”. They are given a license to legally discriminate against anyone they don’t like and it’s shameful. This program has been abused and misused and it still continues to this day.

We have absolutely no issue with terminating an applicant who admits to lying on his or her application or background questionnaire, someone who has serious issue that wasn’t disclosed or someone with a criminal past. None of us want to work with someone like that. But we do have a serious problem with the failure rates based on an unproven opinion of a person with dubious personal objectives. And we haven’t even discussed the tremendous amount of resources that have already been invested in these applicants with the testing, oral boards, medical evaluations and background investigations that turned up nothing to keep them from being hired.

And we leave you with this; the government will not allow private business to use polygraph testing in their hiring practices. Why? Because they know it’s junk science. They know it can be used to discriminate and get rid of anyone for any reason regardless of their qualifications. And we’re not necessarily talking about racial discrimination, reverse discrimination or any discrimination outside whatever is in the mind of the poly-con examiner at the time they administer the test. Do some managers red flag certain applicants for failure? Or does the polygraph examiner not like the way you comb your hair or the way your shoes look. But the real question is, why then does the same government that forbids the use of poly-con testing for private employers use the same junk science to discriminate and stop careers? How many tremendous young men and women have we failed to hire because of an agenda? And why don’t the same Congressmen and Congresswomen who thought this was such a great idea subject themselves to such testing before they can take office? If it’s so valuable, certainly they should use it as well to weed out bad politicians who are privy to all kinds of classified government information.

Fortunately, one potential new-hire, gave a us copy of their complaint about their polygraph examiner. This one person, was so offended by how they were treated and what was said, they decided to act and file a complaint. We will see if CBP will take their complaint seriously or dismiss it like so many others. We will discuss their complaint in another posting.

Meeting update

June 9th, 2016

The June 8, 2016 General Membership meeting was canceled due to lack of quorum.