EPA Council 238 legislative breakfast in D.C.

AFGE’s EPA Council 238 held its annual legislative breakfast July 18 at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., where members gathered from across the United States to hear from lawmakers and update them on issues important to its members and the American people.

“The main issue here is that the American people want clean air and clean water,” said Council President Chuck Orzehoskie of Chicago, who is in his 42nd year working for the EPA.

“When meeting with members of Congress, I plan to emphasize the importance of the EPA, where we make sure that your water is safe and that you breathe clean air,” said Council Treasurer/President AFGE Local 704 John O’Grady of Chicago. “Also we have to stop the rhetoric and the attack on federal employees.”

Council Executive Vice President Tom Link of North Carolina emphasized this sentiment and said “How can we possibly expect to attract the best and the brightest to the public sector if Congress keeps cutting jobs and our pay and benefits? When John F. Kennedy was president, the federal work force was 1.9 million people. Now it is 1.87 so we are doing a lot more with a lot less people.”

Council Sergeant-at-Arms Jeanette Graves of New Jersey said that council members had plans to talk about federal employee jobs, health issues and budget issues. “A lot of our employees are feeling the burden. There is a better way to balance the budget than by hurting federal employees,” she said.

Karen Kellen of Denver, president of AFGE Local 3607 and an EPA attorney, said “The primary issue is pay and benefits for federal workers. We have a lot hard working people at the EPA who really care about the environment. We need to preserve our staff so we can do our jobs and keep Americans safe.”

Paul Novack, an EPA geologist from Cleveland said that a great deal of the EPA budget is passed on to the states. Karen added that specifically, EPA funding goes to water treatment and infrastructure in the states and that through this, the EPA rehabilitates infrastructure while creating good jobs.

AFGE EPA Council members heard speeches from U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.), Hank Johnson (Ga.), Frank Pallone (N.J.) and others during the breakfast. Photos of the EPA breakfast will be available in the coming days at http://www.flickr.com/photos/afge/.

Filed under: Events Tagged: DC, Pay freeze, public employees

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