Update on screening testing for non-vaccinated employees

Early this year, the White House announced that federal employees who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine would have to undergo screening testing once per week if their duty station is in a county with a medium or high community level.

The CDC tracks community levels and determines if counties are at a low, medium, or high level, and they update their website every Thursday. The new data uploaded on Thursday determine if employees will need to be tested during the following week, Sunday through Saturday.

On the map on the CDC’s website, if your duty station’s county is yellow or orange (i.e., medium or high), then testing is required. If by the following Thursday the spread has dropped back to green (i.e., low), then there will be no testing during the week after that Thursday.

Bargaining is ongoing, and although some employees are annoyed having to test each week, it shows that the agency can successfully continue its operations without requiring every single employee to be vaccinated.

We will keep this website updated with the current status of each DRT station in the column to the right (if you are on a PC) or in the box at the bottom (for mobile users).

The Safer Federal Work Force Task Force has published a list of frequently asked questions, available here.

Details to the soft-sided facilities

Update 5/17/2022: The details have been postponed until staffing issues are resolved.

DHS has decided Del Rio Sector needs a second soft-sided facility to address what they expect will be an increase in entries in our sector in the coming weeks, which many of us have seen under construction north of Eagle Pass. DHS has decided that instead of changing policies to deter crossings or redirect flow to the ports of entry, they are going to increase the detention capacity of the U.S. Border Patrol.

As a result, Del Rio Sector has to figure out how to staff it with local employees and likely some DHS volunteers, contractors, and other DHS employees. A solicitation was published this month, looking for agents who wanted to volunteer to work at the soft-sided facilities for six months, and most agents are concerned about the early start time and whether PFP will be allowed.

Local 2366 met with Chief Owens and the sector’s command staff to discuss these details, among other items. Yes, PFP will be allowed and encouraged, but as always, it will depend on operations. Chief Owens and the union will be working to make sure supervisors and managers in both locations (and everywhere else around Del Rio Sector) understand the importance of allowing employees to work out as frequently as possible.

Regarding the shift start times, we’re working with Sector staff to find the best way to do this so the work can get done while allowing agents to still have normal schedules.

More details to come.

MOU signed regarding USBP’s new course of fire

The union and the agency have signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the use of the new 50-round course of fire. Here are the basics of the agreement:

  • Employees will be provided with 150 rounds of proficiency ammunition each quarter. Proficiency ammunition is provided at the end of your quarterly qualification and is intended for you to use as you see fit for training purposes. If you are not provided with all 150 rounds, ask your firearms instructor.
  • If someone is struggling with the new course of fire, they can schedule some on-duty time to work with a firearms instructor to improve their shooting skills and techniques. This time can be at any point during someone’s shift — not just during a qualification — and must be scheduled with the approval of a supervisor. If operations can support you being away for an hour or two, then this is a good way to improve your shooting skills with the new course of fire.
  • Separately, even if someone is not struggling with the new course of fire, an employee may schedule time with a firearms instructor to maintain or improve their skill level with firearms, subject to supervisory approval.
  • Seized Property Specialists (SPS) will transition over to the 30-round course of fire as long as they have first run through it as an advanced firearms training exercise (AFTE). The 30-round course of fire is what BP Processing Coordinators use, and will be new for SPS personnel.
  • Finally, if you need cleaning supplies for your duty weapon, ask your duty station and you will be provided with them upon request.

USBP HQ is going to message this new MOU to the field shortly, so it might take a little bit of time to implement. In the meantime, Del Rio Sector has been notified of the new agreement.

Contact your local union rep if you have any problems.