As the Commissioner continues to resume operations for non-teleworking staff, the final wave of states to reopen will do so on July 13th. As in the prior waves, this doesn’t affect staff with the ability to telework nor anyone deemed high-risk by the CDC. PMA has been monitoring business resumption very closely and we continue to support the agency in its efforts to serve our taxpayers while keeping us and our employees safe. This limited return to work is not a sign that the pandemic has ended. Many of us live and work in states with increasing rates of infection and must not let our guard down. I am particularly concerned about those of you in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas – these states are reporting the highest 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases since the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11th. Only seven states and DC currently have sufficient contact tracing protocols at this time. Please continue to be cautious and remember that wearing a face covering, while not a perfect solution, is necessary to help protect those around you.
There’s never been a more important time to become a PMA member. Our voice is becoming louder and our leaders are listening. Through our consultative relationship with IRS HQ, we’ve worked to resolve questions, concerns, and inconsistencies around performance pay, leave administration, professional liability, retirement, safety, and leadership succession to name only a few. We are working diligently to strengthen our existing relationships throughout the IRS and to develop new relationships throughout government so that we can grow our impact. We do all of this and more for a mere $3.50 per pay period – the best bargain I’ve seen in my career. I ask each of you to encourage your peers in the non-bargaining unit to consider signing up using the attached form. If you know a retiree who would benefit from our advocacy, we offer lifetime memberships to them for a one-time $100 payment.
Today is Juneteenth. PMA joins the nation in honoring the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that the war was over and all enslaved were now free. The day reminds us of long-fought battles for racial equality, both historically and ongoing. Recent events have spotlighted how systemic racism hurts the lives and livelihoods of Black communities. As we pledge to work toward an anti-racist society, we acknowledge there’s more to do. As managers, we’re committed to doing the work necessary to nurture true diversity, inclusion, and safety for people of color within our agency. Once introduced, we encourage the Senate to take up Senator Cornyn’s bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
As we engage more on this topic, we were heartened to see the Senior Executives Association issue a press release affirming their commitment to diversity while recognizing the very long road ahead for the Senior Executive Service (SES) to look more like America than it has and currently does. PMA supports SEA’s announcement and we aim to serve as an ally to aspiring executives of color by helping our agency improve where it continues to struggle with implementing meaningful inclusion and anti-racism practices.
Annually, the PMA National Board meets to reflect on the prior year, plan for our next fiscal year, set a budget, and monitor our bylaws and policies. This is the first year in our history that we will meet via Zoom to handle this important work. We chose to limit this meeting to necessary business and look forward to a more robust meeting once it is safe for us to resume traveling. The National Board is very excited about this year’s meeting! We will be discussing our legislative priorities, new areas of advocacy, how we can leverage our new media relationships to be better advocates for you, and how to most effectively manage the Association’s administrative work now that Tom has retired from the role of Executive Director. I am excited for next week’s newsletter where I hope to be able to share more about the year ahead.
PMA member and EDI Program Manager, Linda Ortiz, along with GLOBE will host a SABA event on June 25th from 1-2PM Eastern – a flyer is attached with additional details. You will need access to an IRS-issued device to attend. June is LGBT Pride Month and this presentation serves to heighten awareness of the queer community within the agency and within our society. Nationwide, more than 67% of queer-identified employees do not disclose their orientation at work. As a member of this community, I sincerely hope you will make time to attend. I don’t discuss this much, if ever, but I joined the IRS in 2009 and have experienced homophobia in each role I’ve held, including jokes, slurs, and even once a physical assault. I covered my orientation at work for more than two years because of the hostility I encountered. Unfortunately, I stayed quiet because I was afraid of being a “troublemaker” – I’d been unemployed as a result of the Great Recession for many months and was desperate to keep a job. So many of us and so many of our employees are suffering the way I was and we need to honor their experience.
There is a nationwide Federal Executive Board (FEB) workshop being offered called Uncovering Unconscious & Implicit Bias in the Workplace on July 1st from 1-2:30PM Eastern – please click here to register. You will need to use your personal device to attend. This session will uncover the shocking truth of how Unconscious Bias shows up in our daily decision making and how it impacts the workplace. Participants will learn real-world examples of how Unconscious Bias has negatively impacted people’s careers and lives; be able to identify strategies you can easily implement to help mitigate Unconscious Bias in your personal and professional lives; learn the language to help address Unconscious Bias when you witness it demonstrated by others; and experience a mind shift and view about other humans you interact with daily.
PMA is excited to offer another sponsor webinar around COVID-19 and retirement planning on July 8th from 1:30-3PM Eastern – a calendar invitation is attached which contains additional details. You will need to use your personal device to attend. The administrator of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) and Tammy Flanagan of Retire Federal will be hosting an educational webinar on the FLTCIP exclusively for our members. We are living in uncertain times due to the worldwide pandemic. What impact does this have on your retirement planning? Join us as Tammy Flanagan discusses ways to make informed decisions about your retirement benefits whether you are near your planned retirement, midcareer, or already in the first years of your well-deserved life after retirement. You will learn some key factors that will help you stay the course and plan for a smooth transition to a financially secure life after federal service. There will be a live Q&A session following the event.
Yesterday, the Human Capital Office made good on its promise to our Association and released additional guidance for expanded maxiflex flexible work schedules. Beginning Monday, June 21st, this flexibility is now available for employees returning to the office and is no longer limited to teleworkers exclusively. You can read HCO’s Interim Guidance Memo and I encourage you to review the talking points for managers on iManage.
Late yesterday, OPM issued a memorandum regarding annual leave and other paid time off. The memo reiterates all existing leave provisions and, most significantly, expresses plainly that plans hampered by the ongoing pandemic will not serve as sufficient basis to restore annual leave. The memo also indicates no changes to annual leave and credit hour carryover limitations. The 26-week limitation for carrying compensatory time also remains unchanged. Put simply: please be sure to take your leave. PMA continues to advocate for changes and additional flexibility due to the unprecedented worldwide pandemic. I don’t want you to lose your leave so please take it and be sure to remind your staff to do so as well.
Monday, the Supreme Court decided Bostock v. Clayton County and made clear that employment protections from sex discrimination extend to sexual orientation and gender identity, with Justice Gorsuch writing for the majority. IRS employees have enjoyed this protection since 1998 when EO 13087 prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Gender identity was protected in 2014 by EO 13672. These protections did not immediately cover federal contractors but began to in 2015.
FEEA is offering to send a cloth face covering to anyone who must return to work in a space with other employees and/or the public. Register here to receive a complimentary face covering – supplies are limited. If you would like to order a batch of those masks for your team, please let me know.