For those who were not able to attend our Annual Meeting on December 1st, 2021, here is an overview of the items presented. As usual, please direct any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hosted Chairman Jerry Nadler, of the House Judiciary Committee. He gave an update on the government budget, President Biden's Build Back Better plan, and legislation of interest to PTO employees. He and Congresswoman Nydia are collaborating on the IDEA Act, which would improve transperency of innovation demographics, so that the PTO can more effeciently support women and minority innovators.
POPA's attorney, Richard Hirn, gave the legislative report.
- Former POPA President, Pamela Schwartz, was appointed by President Biden to head the Federal Impasse Panel.
- POPA has received national consultation rights to any in OPM policy. Union President Kathleen Duda and Richard Hirn routinely attend policy briefings, which include the topics of bargaining rights and the vaccine mandate.
- POPA is continuing to monitor IP legislative developments in Congress
- Our PAC, which is funded by member's voluntary contributions, has helped support representatives like Jerry Nadler, Don Beyer, and Gerry Connolly
Kathleen Duda's Report
- On Covid-19: The USPTO is still in Phase 1; there will be a short Phase 2 with very little changes, and then Phase 3 will be the 'return to normal.' The PTO will give a 60 day notice for the next phase. Most employees are now fully vaccinated, with only 14 employees expected to receive disciplinary action from not complying with the mandate. However, disciplinary actions will be postponed until after January 1st.
- In 2021, the Union filed two association grievances:
- The first was the ISP reimbursment settlement, for non-PHP employees. If you have filed for reimbursement, but were denied, please make sure that the address in your application matches the one recorded on your agreement and invoices.
- The second was on the short-notice Juneteenth holiday. POPA is pushing for proper compensation, especially for pay-capped employees who couldn't claim overtime.
- President Biden has nominated Kathi Vidal as the new USPTO director. She is currently awaiting Senate approval.
- POPA and management are continuing to work on the new SEARCH tool
- On TRP: Dockets are still at 150 hours; POPA is pushing for expanded service desk hours, extensions for safety net time, and second portfolio prep. We've also asked for data on past year's ratings.
- On Telework:
- POPA is working on seperate agreements for different parts of the office, which does complicate and prolong the process, but we're trying to get this settled as soon as possible
- TEEAP will involve fewer employee trips in a year
- On the recent concern around PIV badges: only patent managers can give travel orders to TEEAP employees; if you have received travel orders from anyone else, please contact email@example.com. Currently, the office is not doing general travel, and you will not receive travel time, though you will receive time for PIV badge processing.
- POPA is continuing to push for secondary alternate work sites, and we are expecting agreements for both full and part time teleworkers
- Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): POPA and management are currently working on establishing the ground rules for the latest CBA. We are expecting management's proposals in the spring, which we will post on the website, for employees to comment. This process has been further complicated by a re-organization in upper management; we are now working with five deputy commissioners, instead of one.
- OPM Policy on Safety Zones: Due to the PTO's unique production requirements, POPA has asked management to work with the OPM to reinstate oral warnings.
- For those who have submitted membership forms in the past several months, we have received and processed your membership. There, however, has been a technical issue with HR, who establishes the paystub dues, and we are currently working with them to resolve the issue.