Tags: U.S. Commerce Department | Dan Sobien | National Weather Service

No Free Ride for Govt Employee Cutlery

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Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 02:41 PM Current | Bio | Archive

National Weather Service employees on the front lines of the fight against global warming are often assigned to “small, remote outposts with only two people per shift responsible for all the warnings and all the forecasts for that area,” according to Dan Sobien president of the NWS union.

It sounds worse than being stuck in an A Shau Valley listening post during Vietnam, although there are similarities. Both struggles are characterized by massive government intervention supported through questionable statistics. Body counts on one hand balanced by toasty temperature readings on the other.

Sobien, interviewed by The Washington Times, paints a bleak picture, “In most places you can’t run out to Burger King and grab a burger to bring back to work,” he said. “Many eat at their work station while monitoring weather.”

Which is why the union thinks taxpayers should foot the bill for the cups and cutlery these lonely climate warriors use to eat lunch. Certainly the thought of meteorologists going Neanderthal and eating with their fingers then using the same hands to manipulate delicate instruments the service uses to cook the books on climate change is unappealing.

If you’re like me, you may be wondering how hygiene support for government employees escalated from toilet paper to 6 piece place settings. I blame Obama’s stimulus spend–a–thon.

The Times reports, “In 2009, the Commerce Department [in charge of the NWS] . . . allowed the weather offices to supply hand sanitizer, paper goods and plastic ware in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak.” Considering the way some employees attack their lunch in government canteens it’s certainly an expenditure that can be described as shovel ready. Still how supplying knives, forks, cups and plates prevent the spread of the flu is something of a mystery.

Before the outbreak employees were either eating out, putting the germ–fighting onus on the fast food industry, or bringing their own utensils.

Unless they were simply dumping their lunch on the table and using their tongue to clean up afterward, supplying government–approved place settings seems about as useful as this year’s flu vaccination, which only gives you a one–in–three chance of dodging disease.

Long after that flu threat vanished government was still passing out the plates because what is billed as temporary over time metamorphoses into eternal. The weathermen assumed their mess kits would keep coming from Uncle Sam until the oceans finally boiled away.

Then something remarkable happened. Just a few short months before the Ebola panic of 2014, the Department of Commerce ruled the disease menace had been subdued and the weather service was getting out of the catering business. In the future, employees would rely on their own picnic supplies.

Since no change in working conditions is too petty for a taxpayer–funded grievance and arbitration process the union complained and started the quasi–judicial gears grinding and generating work product.

The union sent out a hot news release that attempted to take the side of the beleaguered taxpayer, “It is hard to imagine that with current international trade violations, international piracy of American intellectual property, and commercial espionage, the General Counsel of DOC would rather spend its efforts to make sure that NWS employees don’t get paper plates and utensils.”

Yet exactly the same question could be asked of the union since its refusal to allow members to pay for their own plates started the dispute resolution process. But that’s simply the way many public servants think, the public (meaning you and me) is there to serve them.

For example, also buried in the stimulus was a project that involved shoveling money toward government employees that commute on Metro. Back in the days of want and privation, during a Republican administration, federal employees were given $120 per month as a gift from taxpayers to finance their travel. The stimulus increased the handout to $230, although how giving money to people who were already riding Metro was going to stimulate the economy was not explained.

The new spending level was justified as a “one time boost” costing roughly $192 million, and was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2010.

As the expiration date approached, federal employee sympathizers complained about a pay cut. The Washington Post described it as, “a direct hit of $1,320 annually,” as the subsidy returned to a level that was just fine two years ago.

So there is ample precedent for the battle of knives and forks. Clinging tenaciously to every last napkin Sobien complained, “Its really a bizarre thing. There’s no way this could cost them more than five or ten thousand dollars.”

If that’s the case why doesn’t the union foot the bill, giving members something tangible in return for their dues, and taxpayers a needed break?

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

 

 



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If you’re like me, you may be wondering how hygiene support for government employees escalated from toilet paper to 6 piece place settings.
U.S. Commerce Department, Dan Sobien, National Weather Service
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2015-41-22
Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 02:41 PM
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