March 01, 2020 - Edwin Osorio - 2nd Vice President
When Social Security was conceived in 1935 people called FDR a communist. Whenever there is a notion to help the masses it is often called Socialism. In this context Socialism is a pejorative. One person’s Socialism is another person’s altruism. The fact is that even though we are all created equal, we don’t all have equal opportunities; and opportunities of equality are discerning. There are many groups that are predisposed to the proposition of equality within the framework of their group or culture. When it comes to conditions of employment, there is no stronger proponent for equality than the Union. Unions have fought for over 150 years in American history to ensure that all workers are free from exploitation and have all the opportunities available in pursuit of prosperity.
When you conflate the idea of Social Security and the purpose of providing a social safety net for millions of Americans with the workforce of 26,000 field office, card center, and tele-service center employees that are dedicated to the same goals, you would presume that it must be a great place to work; just full of good will and kindness. After all, who would be more conscientious and benevolent to its employees than a management force that exists on the predication of helping people? In the end, if you are a claims service representative or a claims specialist, aren’t you also a member of the American public as well?
Cognitive dissonance permeates the average Social Security field office, tele-service center, and Social Security Card Center. Even though the mission of all of these offices is founded in nature in altruism and protecting the welfare of the American public, it is often done to the detriment of its “most valued asset,’ the field operatives. The field operatives are the frontline employees that interact directly with millions of people every year. Contrary to every rule governing the management of subordinates, SSA management believes that instead of hiring a sufficient number of employees to carry out the mission of the agency, it can extract infinite amounts of work out of the already over exhausted and overly stretched out existing work force. This is accomplished by micromanaging field operatives, creating superficial barriers preventing employees from utilizing earned annual and sick leave, forcing employees to work at locations that are detrimental to their health and finances, and subordinating them to a standard of conduct that is far more stringent than the standard that management adheres to. This has created an adversarial relationship between field operatives and management that has become the biggest impediment to the efficiency and efficacy within Social Security. Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a microcosm of the federal culture we live in: the rule of the few elite executives and pseudo executives usurping and exploiting the rights and protections of the majority and taking advantage of field operative loyalties to their duties, all against the interest of the public.
The good news is we the rank and file will always have the numbers to overcome anything, providing we are united and focused on targeted solutions. It doesn’t matter if it is through our local, state, or federal ballot boxes, in our communities, or at our own office within Social Security, our voice is our most valuable instrument we have. The silence of our voice is tantamount to suppression and we can no longer be victimized by our silence. It doesn’t matter if we exercise our voice on our own or through a proxy such as the Union; the most important thing is that we stand up and be counted. If we can do this, we will always live to fight another day for what is just and what we have earned.