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- POPA welcomes the new Commissioner of Patents, Vaishali Udupa to the USPTO. We look forward to working with her on behalf of our bargaining unit.
- CBA update: POPA is working on finishing up our initial proposals. Thanks to everyone who attended POPA’s CBA informational sessions and provided input.
- DM Award: POPA is currently meeting with management on the annual renewal of the DM award. Unfortunately, we are being presented with additional requirements and a takeaway of some of the award, which will lead to less opportunity and more difficulty in earning a DM award. Management wants to increase the first office action hours requirement for Tier 2 and the Entry tier, and eliminate the middle tier (Tier 1). For those who are used to receiving the Tier 1 award and supplement, this means a decreased payout for the same work that earned you a Tier 1 award and supplement. We are working to include a supplemental award for continued performance at the entry tier level, and want to ensure supplemental award eligibility for examiners who may have difficulty meeting the new action hours requirements while on detail or on extended leave for FMLA-type reasons. We also hope to discuss PAP changes to the DM system that would benefit all examiners.
- PIV badges: The USPTO will be focusing on having employees who do not have PIV badges or expiring badges to come in and get badges in 2 phases (within 50 miles and TEAP), and will be sending out information to the affected employees. Please note that if you currently have a PIV card that is expiring soon, when you receive a notice and instructions about renewal, and you live within 50 miles of the Alexandria HQ, follow the instructions in order to renew your PIV card. TEAP employees will be in Phase 2 and receive an email with instructions at the appropriate time.
- New salary tables and overtime cap: For those employees at the top of the special pay rate (GS-14/10), the maximum overtime is 4.99 hours. If you work 5 hours of paid overtime, you will be paid for 4.99 hours since 5 hours would exceed the pay cap. You will be charged 5 hours of production time. A remark should appear on the E&L noting that overtime was capped at a certain dollar amount. Alternatively, an employee can work, for example, 5 hours of comp time or 4 hours of overtime and 1 hour of comp time and receive the entire 5 hours. This occurs at different grades and steps and may involve more than .01 hours. (updated 2/9/23)
- Internet Service Reimbursement: POPA continues to hear that employees are having issues with the ISR process including rejection of claim with unclear or no directions on how to correct. The process and procedure is in management’s venue and POPA continues to convey concerns raised by employees to management. Be aware that there is a backlog on getting reimbursement as well as a long delay in getting responses to emails sent in to the mail boxes. POPA has discussed the situation with management and they are looking at the process for improvements.
- Performance improvement periods for patent examiners: POPA is starting discussions on returning to oral warning performance improvement periods and safety zones which is permitted once again by OPM.
- Telephony changes: Cisco desk phones and CUCILync are being discontinued across the Agency. The Agency will be transitioning all telephony capability to MS Teams and provide employees new speakerphones and headsets. The Cisco phones will not operate with MS Teams. POPA recommends that you do not OPT-OUT of receiving this additional equipment.
- Continuing UL deployment: New UL deployment continues across the agency. This is part of a multiyear ongoing technology refresh plan by the Agency. Prior to deployment, employees will receive multiple emails and IMs on how to prepare for receiving a new UL.
- Time, Routing, PAP (TRP): The timing pilot is ongoing. If you are a pilot participant, please remember to fill out your application specific surveys at the end of the biweek. In addition, a routing pilot is in development. POPA has received many comments on the assignment of CON/DIVs across the corps. Some examiners would like all of their CON/DIVs on their docket while others would rather have a mix of CON/DIVs with their regular new applications. POPA is in discussion with management about this issue. Finally, the need for more attribute time for pro se applications is being discussed with management.
- POPA election November 2023: If you want to vote, make sure that you are a dues-paying member and POPA has your current mailing address. The agency does not provide employee addresses or address updates to POPA. Questions, a request to check if you are a dues-paying member or a request to check if we have your current mailing address should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Did you know? POPA works with other federal unions in organizations including Federal Postal Coalition and Federal Workers Alliance. With these groups we advocate for federal employee concerns such as civil service reform legislation, protecting federal employee benefits and nominations to positions such as OPM director, FSIP and FLRA members.