Know your rights - Do I have to write a memo?

Most of us have had to write a memorandum at some point or another — it is just a fact of life as an employee of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The union is frequently asked by members if they must write a memorandum. The short answer is, yes, generally, you can be ordered to write a memorandum regarding just about anything. However, there is one significant rule that needs to be observed: Article 4, Section H, of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Article 4, Section H, of the CBA states:
Any inquiry into an employee’s off-duty conduct must be based on activity which, if verified, would have a nexus to the employee’s official position. The Service and the Union agree that the conduct of employees while off duty shall result in action concerning the employee only where there is a nexus between that conduct and the employee’s official position. Employees will not be subjected to harassment or frivolous inquiries.

This means that you get to be just a person living your life without being made to explain your every action while you are away from work. However, if an allegation is made that you did something while off duty, and that action has a nexus to your job — that is, your conduct is likely to have a negative effect on the agency’s operations — then the agency can look into it.

If you are ordered to write a memorandum about your off duty activities and you believe there is no nexus to the job, contact a union representative so the issue can be investigated. Ultimately, it may be best to write the memorandum and file a grievance, rather than face a charge of insubordination. As always, when ordered to write a memorandum, you have the right to union representation pursuant to Weingarten and Article 31 of the CBA.

When in doubt, contact a local union representative for help.

Know your rights - What are my Weingarten rights?

You have the right to union representation anytime you are examined by a supervisor/investigator if you reasonably believe the examination may result in disciplinary action.

Most of the time, your supervisors will hand you a Weingarten form before asking you questions or having you write a memo because of Weingarten and the requirements of Article 31.B(3) of the CBA. But sometimes they won’t, and it will be incumbent upon you to assert your rights.

This rule applies when:

  1. an examination of a bargaining unit employee by an agency representative takes place;
  2. the examination must occur in connection with an investigation (vehicle damage, UoF allegation, etc. An investigation does not need to be performed by OIG/OPR/MI);
  3. the employee must reasonably believe that the examination may result in discipline; and
  4. the employee must request representation.

Weingarten applies whether it’s a verbal meeting or written, like in a memo, and applies to employees who are both on probation or off probation — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you are going to be counseled by a supervisor, Weingarten does not apply. However, if during that counseling the supervisor begins asking you questions and you think the questions could lead to discipline, you need to ask for a union representative.

If you invoke your Weingarten rights, the agency can do one of the following:

  1. agree to your request and wait for the union representative to arrive or reschedule the meeting;
  2. deny your request and end the meeting immediately;
  3. give you the choice of ending the meeting or continuing without representation; or
  4. deny the request and continue to ask questions. You should then repeatedly but respectfully ask for union representation and protest the denial of your rights.

When in doubt, contact a local union representative for help.

Memorial service for BPA Donna Doss

Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss lost her life on the evening of February 2, 2019, when she was struck and killed by a passing vehicle while assisting a DPS trooper with a vehicle stop.

The friends and family of Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss will gather to celebrate her life on Friday, February 8, 2019, at 2pm at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, Texas. The funeral procession, led by law enforcement vehicles from numerous agencies, will begin at The Hamil Family Funeral Home and end at the Expo Center.

Shutdown/border security message from NBPC

NBPC Members –

While we all suffer the delay of our first paycheck under the government shutdown, we believe that it is imperative to dispel any rumors being promulgated by those with extreme left-leaning views on social media and those who are hoping to place the blame on anyone other than with whom it belongs. The Union did not cause the shutdown and our support of the wall is not the reason the shutdown continues. President Trump made it abundantly clear prior to the shutdown that he would not allow an appropriations bill to move forward without funding for the wall. Those in Congress who believed he was bluffing moved forward without funding the wall, so consequently, a shutdown commenced on December 22, 2018.

The NBPC’s number one legislative priority has been, and will continue to be, agent compensation and retention – both of which, hand-in-hand, will contribute greatly to border security. We have met with members of Congress and the leadership of our country at the highest levels of government to convey this message. It was during our January 3, 2019, meeting with President Trump that we discussed our priorities and their impact on border security. To make it simple, we cannot get what we need with another continuing resolution. Without the support and understanding of the White House and Congress, an appropriations bill will not contain the funding necessary to ensure we hire the agents we need and retain the ones we have, and at the same time make sure that they are getting compensated fairly for performing the work needed to ensure border security.

The NBPC cannot address every comment on social media, so we ask that you discuss any concerns you may have with your Local’s Executive Board Officers and/or the National Executive Committee.

--NBPC National Executive Committee

AtHoc messages received by CBP employees

Many employees have reported receiving phone calls, emails, and text messages regarding Blackberry's AtHoc service. AtHoc, which CBP has been utilizing for at least a few years, is designed to help the agency account for employees' safety and well-being during a significant event like a natural disaster or national emergency.

The recent messages have encouraged employees to download the AtHoc app, but due to the unsolicited nature, employees have questioned the legitimacy of the messages and the app; the messages are indeed being sent by Blackberry on behalf of CBP.

Employees are not required to download the app, it is strictly voluntary.

Using child safety seats while transporting children

Using Child Safety Seats While Transporting Children

Over the past few months, there have been concerns raised about the transportation of infants and toddlers found along the border and in ranches further in the interior. For example:

  1. A supervisor told an agent that child safety seats are supposed to be used only when transporting children from station to station, not from a ranch or the border to a station;
  2. When an agent told a supervisor that he did not have a child safety seat in his vehicle, a supervisor told him it was fine to transport a child without the seat, as long as he turned on his emergency lights and drove slowly;
  3. A supervisor told an agent to have the child’s mother hold the child in her lap while the agent “carefully” drove to the station; and
  4. Child safety seats have been found to be improperly mounted to vehicle seats, in some instances because the vehicle seats were never equipped to hold a child safety seat and in other instances because the installer likely didn’t know how to install one.

The union first broached this issue in 2014 when Del Rio Sector had very few child safety seats in its inventory and we started seeing a marked increase in family units crossing the border. Since then, the agency has purchased additional child safety seats and some stations even designated certain vehicles to always contain child safety seats.

However, despite a continued flow of family units across the border, it is clear that guidance is needed in the field, including how to properly mount the seats and when they are supposed to be used.

Del Rio Sector management has been notified of these recurring issues and they informed the union that training is being developed in the installation and use of child safety seats when transporting children; we have not seen any interim guidance sent to the field.

In the meantime, it is important that all members know that they are responsible for the safety and well-being of anyone they transport in their vehicles. If you are in a vehicle accident and a child is injured because a child safety seat was not used or was improperly used, you may face disciplinary action.

If a supervisor ever orders you to improperly transport a child without the use of a child safety seat, you should verify the order (preferably via radio on tower). Ordinarily when a supervisor tells you to do something that might be improper, the appropriate way to handle it is to obey the order now and grieve it later – if you find yourself in this situation, immediately contact your local union rep.

Our goal is ensure the safety and well-being of ourselves and those in our custody, so when in doubt, check with your local union rep.

Canine Care Provision of BPAPRA Technical Amendment

"Canine Care" Provision

October 2, 2018

As Border Patrol agent canine handlers are aware, the canine care provision was removed from the legislation that was passed in the House of Representatives last week (The Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Amendment Act of 2018). This was done after much debate and push back from the NBPC. The canine care provision was the only section in the legislation that would score (which means it would cost money that Congress would need to appropriate); however, we believed that to be a minimal cost.

In December of 2017, NBPC National President Brandon Judd and NBPC Vice President Christopher Kraus (canine handler) met with then Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan about the canine care provision. Acting Commissioner McAleenan agreed that the canine care provision would improve the program and because he agreed that it would be at minimal cost, he committed to working with Congress to ensure the provision passed. Unfortunately, when push came to shove, Commissioner McAleenan caved for the good of his own career.

It appears the numbers provided by CBP to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) were overinflated. The NBPC pushed back on these numbers, but the CBO can only work with what the agency provides and therefore, the $100 million dollars over a 10-year scoring period caused the House to remove the provision because there was no “pay for.” To complicate matters further, the CBO also took longer than expected to give their score of the provision, releasing it just prior to the House of Representatives getting ready to go on recess.

With midterm elections coming up and changes that could happen in the House and Senate, legislators dropped that portion of the bill in order to go forward with the current bill that passed, with the intention of addressing the canine care provision at a later time.


The NBPC is committed to fixing the canine care provision and will be actively working with the next Congress to get this done. We will be monitoring different upcoming legislation in which the provision can be reinstated with accurate numbers in order to get it passed into law.


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