On January 29, 2016, Border Patrol agents began receiving the first paychecks under the recently enacted BPAPRA of 2015.
Many members expressed surprise that this paycheck reflected a decrease in their net pay. Fortunately, most members were aware and prepared, as the Union had been talking with members about this for years — ever since the Office of Special Counsel reports demonstrated abuses in claiming AUO throughout the agency.
Once the OSC reports substantiated the claims made by fellow agents, some of whom bragged about abuses on social media, there was little support for maintaining the old system. In fact, many in DHS and CBP lobbied for a system that would have netted every agent a loss of nearly 30 percent of their annual pay. The Union believed that this was extremely excessive and would penalize the vast majority of agents who only worked the hours they claimed and claimed the hours they worked.
Your union representatives worked to develop a fair plan and to generate support for a pay system that would give agents a consistent income. We worked hard for a system that would not be subject to the whims of D.C. administrators and that would not fluctuate 20 to 30 percent each year based on sector traffic. We felt that the plan being pushed by DHS and CBP would have created too many financial hardships for families trying to budget for mortgages, car payments, childcare and other expenses.
Although not perfect, BPAPRA successfully headed off the draconian cuts being promoted by DHS, OPM and CBP, which, by the way, would have cost agents more money and had lots of support from a very fiscally conservative Congress.
Along the way to its implementation, we fought every effort to harm our agents and we won.
When CBP de-certified all Border Patrol agents from AUO in March of 2015, and wanted to implement a targeted enforcement-based overtime payment system like OFO has, we fought back and we won the implementation of the temporary Overtime Transition Plan (OTP) for ALL agents nationwide, which actually paid agents more than AUO paid them.
When OPM issued a one-page letter supporting the position that agents are FLSA exempt until BPAPRA was implemented, we fought back and we won. Legislators passed a technical amendment to the law in near record time to ensure Border Patrol agents would not lose FLSA during the transition.
When OPM and DHS claimed that all payments of FLSA since December 2014 were subject to repayment by the agent, we fought back and we won.
When OPM and DHS promoted a pay plan that would have cost agents approximately 30 percent of their salary, we fought to secure a modern salary plan that protected the interests of our agents. It is not perfect, however. Agents will still see a reduction of pay in the area of 6-7 percent.
We understand that no one wants to see their pay cut. At the beginning of this long fight, only bad options were presented to us. We believed we had to do better. The plan we presented was a fair and fiscally responsible compensation program, one that mitigated many of the cuts Border Patrol agents are now facing.
Unfortunately, not all of the points included in that initial proposal made it into the final law. That is the nature of negotiations and legislation. We met with hundreds of representatives, staff members, lawyers and lobbyists. National Union Officers of the NBPC spent countless days away from their families, fighting for you by meeting with anyone and everyone who could help. Our lobbying team continues to work to get the best deal possible for agents. Union representatives are currently working on technical amendments to the law to ensure the legislative intent of Congress is codified in the law.
Some will claim there was a better deal to be had. These people are either misinformed orintentionally being dishonest. We can say with absolute certainty that there was no such deal.
Some will claim that they were not fully informed. Fortunately, the union had countless meetingswith members throughout the country and we posted regular legislative updates on our website and on social media, while also discussing the issue continuously on the weekly podcast. We have created multiple venues to keep our members abreast of developments. Most of you have used these opportunities to stay informed, to help lobby elected officials, and to provide valuable input. The NBPC has and will continue to keep its members informed on any changes to the BPAPRA.