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Rich Couture

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Rich Couture, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 215, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed AFGE Council 215 and their push to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Social Security Administration. 

Council 215 represents over 5,000 employees throughout the U.S. who work for the Social Security Administration. These workers encompass the support staff for administrative judges and assist in preparing for hearings and provide other support throughout the entire hearing process. Council 215 members represent a diverse and widespread workforce within the Social Security Administration. Couture also serves as the lead negotiator for the General Social Security Committee, representing over 42,000 members.

He said there is a public service crisis at the Social Security Administration due to severe understaffing. Many different issues have created low staffing levels, including poor benefits, a stressful work environment and low wages. Besides understaffing, the Social Security Administration suffers from a high turnover rate, which multiplies the ongoing staffing issues and creates longer wait times for individuals who seek benefits and assistance. Over the last decade, the increased turnover rate and larger caseload created more work for the remaining employees, Couture added.

Currently, he is working to negotiate a new CBA for the General Committee that will improve the lives of employees. Among the items they desire are a livable wage and proper training for new hires, address concerns regarding artificial intelligence, childcare benefits and a potential increase in Social Security funding. Couture believes the points would increase morale, lessen the workload and help to eliminate the high turnover rate.

Listen to the entire episode to learn more.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Auto Workers, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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