The Day that Was: A Recap of Day Two of the 49th NFFE National Convention
After a rousing day of speeches by luminaries in government and labor, day two impressed in equal measure with appearances by Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, Federal Labor Relations Authority Chair Carol Waller Pope, and Merit Systems Protection Board Chair Susan Tsui Grundmann. The agenda also featured a roundtable discussion by FLRA General Counsel Julie Clark, FLRA Regional Director Jean Perata, and FLRA Regional Director Peter Sutton.
Kicking off the Day two was OPM Director Berry, who delivered a touching speech on the value that federal employees have, and always will bring to their nation. Invoking the spirit of recently deceased American hero and federal employee Neil Armstrong, Berry made the case for an energetic and forward thinking government breaking barriers for the betterment of all.
“He launched a Golden Age for our species, which has seen the decoding of the human genome, the invention of the internet, the near eradication of smallpox and polio, and food production for a world population that has nearly doubled since his small step, said Berry. “Yet Armstrong never forgot – and never failed to emphasize – that each of these accomplishments were anchored by men and women who stepped forward from families and farms, cities and towns, and took the solemn oath to protect and defend our Constitution and our precious liberties.”
While lauding the many achievements of the federal workforce, he also touched upon the challenges they face, particularly from pundits in the media.
“Tune into the news or talk radio, and you might not hear about it, but every day Federal workers get up in the morning, and go to work to make American’s lives better,” said Berry. “You make sure other countries trade fairly with us. You make sure our water’s clean, our food is safe, and our borders are protected. And when duty calls, you put your lives on the line – some of you not only run toward wildfires, you parachute into them.”
Following Director Berry was FLRA Chair Carol Waller Pope, who heralded the substantial progress the Authority has made in the past several years. Since her appointment in 2009, more cases are being adjudicated, wait times have decreased, and more staff are available for assistance. Most importantly, Pope lauded the restoration of case law examples for union officials to consult to the Authority’s website, www.flra.gov.
Returning to address her union brothers and sisters for the first time since her appointment as MSPB Chair, former NFFE General Counsel Susan Grundmann was welcomed to hearty applause in a highly emotional moment for everyone. She was followed by a training from Bob Elliott of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Earlier this year NFFE signed a statement of support for the organization, whose mission is to ensure soldiers have a job when they return home from a tour of duty. Learn more about ESGR here.
Rounding out the day was a roundtable discussion, which also served as a training for delegates, on the intricacies of FLRA procedure. These trainings will soon be available to members within the Stewards Toolkit and Officers Toolkit, located within the NFFE Toolbox.
Like day one, day two saw a number of distinguished guests address the body on issues of grave concern to all federal employees. For the final installment of the Convention re-cap, covering days three and four, we will discuss the business of the union conducted by delegates in attendance, a certain ‘big announcement,’ and the results of the national elections. Stay tuned brothers and sisters.