AFGE Local 1812

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In a pattern repeated now for over a decade, IBB/VOA upper management received failing grades in the annual OPM Human Capital survey. Will this be the year that something constructive is done about this persistent problem? Read more >>>

In an All Hands meeting, VOA Director David Ensor spoke about the Agency’s WE initiative. He was asked to identify a few of the initiative’s accomplishments and was not able to do so. The two examples he gave were not issues that were accomplished by the WE initiative.

 

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The Agency management supposedly has got a plan to fix all their illegal contracting problems. Read more >>>

There has been a large hue and cry regarding the international broadcasting reform legislation now working its way through the Congress. Some want others to believe that this legislation is a threat to journalism and are enlisting people to "fight for journalism". The wording in the legislation that has raised the hackles of some is nothing new and is contained in the current law. Read more >>>

Correction to "Are VOA Contractors Really Employees?" Read more >>>

The BBG is hard at work trying to fix major problems regarding its contracting practices brought to light by on OIG investigation. AFGE Local 1812 is not sure the proposed course of action will resolve the illegalities. Read more >>>

There has been a lot of discussion regarding reform legislation. AFGE Local 1812 supports congressional efforts to fix a broken Agency. Read more >>>

Congress seems to be determined to reform what has widely been criticized as a defunct and dysfunctional Agency - the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The first attempt at addressing the problem is HR-4490, a Bill passed unanimously by the House Committee with oversight over the BBG. Although the Bill is not perfect it is likely that a Bill in some form will be passed.
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AFGE Local 1812 supports the passage of the BBG Reorganization bill, HR 4490, which recently passed unanimously in a bipartisan vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Read more >>>

What started as a dark overcast day changed to bright sunshine just in time for the annual ceremony at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC. AFGE Local 1812 in conjunction with the employees of the VOA China Branch took part of the event. Read more >>>

The title pretty much sums it up. Agency officials keep using the same tactics when they violate the law, just keep filing legal appeals in the hope that the issue will just go away. This is the same behavior that brought about at the time the largest government settlement payout ever in ther Hartman v. Albright discrimination case.
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Significant numbers of VOA employees have expressed a fear that, should proposed BBG/IBB/VOA and surrogate(s) reform legislation be passed, the integrity of U.S. international broadcasts will be compromised and perceptions suffer. AFGE Local 1812’s Executive Board shares some of these concerns but believes that the Bill, with more explicit protection for the news content, should be enacted. Read more >>>

On May 16,2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed the BBG’s appeal to Federal Arbitrator Suzanne R. Butler’s decision regarding the illegal firing of 16 OCB employees.
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HR 4490 is a bi-partisan effort to reform U.S. international broadcasting. There will be those who oppose this Bill but it is important that the Bill pass and these reforms take place. Read more >>>

The folly of becoming reliant on in-country affiliates to transmit Voice of America news and information has now become exposed during the Russian/Ukrainian crisis. AFGE Local 1812 calls on the BBG to reinvest in shortwave radio broadcasts.

 

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How can you get away with not paying your workers – or at least not paying them for months? Just categorize them as not being employees but “independent contractors”, a legal fiction that has allowed the managers at BBG to abuse certain workers without fear of being held accountable. Read more >>>

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
- Joyce Kilmer
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OCB employees in the final stage of an unnecessarily long and drawn out process. The Appeals Court heard the BBG's appeal to the FLRA's decision upholding Arbitrator Suzanne Butler's award. Read more >>>

AFGE Local 1812 has begun some very frank and open discussions with the new upper management team. Both sides reached out with a desire to open a dialogue. Read more >>>

The Washington Post’s Joe Davidson wrote an article focused on the BBG’s dismal and long festering morale problem. In that article a management official revealed that they do not consider it as being critical. In fact, they believe the problem can wait to be corrected in 3 or maybe even 5 years. Read more >>>

Why is it that Agency officials can seemingly break the law without being held accountable? How is it that they are above the law? Read more >>>

AFGE Local 1812 has sponsored a tree planting in Knoxville, TN, to honor former Governor Victor Ashe. Governor Ashe was willing to roll up his sleeves and work on the many problems that plagued the Broadcasting Board of Governors and have been reflected in the annual OPM Employee Viewpoint Survey year after year. Many believe that because of his willingness to look into the serious morale crisis at the Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Agency bureaucrats maneuvered to have him removed from the Board. Read more >>>

In an editorial published last year, AFGE Local 1812 noted that at
"the BBG, it apparently takes a lot of lawyers to keep the place going. We refer to the fact that in Fiscal Year 2008, the General Counsel’s office had a staff of six. For Fiscal Year 2014, the same office will count 15 employees and that doesn't include contractors." With an office full of more and more attorneys, how does the Agency manage to continue to run afoul of the law?

 

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Earlier, we posted a story about the morale crisis at the Agency. Now, after receiving responses to a union survey from our members, we would like to post some suggestions as to how employee morale can be improved. We intend to continue collecting responses from our members and will continue to offer suggestions as we get additional information.

 

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Late last year, the results of the 2013 OPM Employee Viewpoint Survey were released. Once again, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was at the bottom of the barrel.

 

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Agency management seems intent on preventing Agency employees from carrying out the Voice of America mission. All the emphasis on Television, Internet, and social media has resulted in a dismal and defunct status. Read more >>>

Our Founding Fathers believed in the rule of law, so much so that one of the first things they did was to enact a Constitution. When government officials fail to follow the law it undermines the entire system. How do we, as employees of an Agency charged with promoting American ideals (as well as other parts of the VOA Charter), rectify the blatant flaunting of the law by the government officials running this Agency?

 

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We have wondered many times over the years: “who is running this place?” With a new group of BBG members in place we are hopeful that the answer will finally be found.

 

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VOA director David Ensor gave an interview in which he expounded on his vision of what the VOA is and how it is doing. AFGE Local 1812 takes a critical look at what he said. Read more >>>

Should the BBG be in the business of fighting Internet interdiction. Especially when that may take resources away from the job of getting our message out. Some in the Agency are so determined to use a particular platform that making that platform succeed has become the mission of the Agency itself. Read more >>>

James Warren wrote an opinion piece that appeared in the New York Daily News on December 22, 2013, according to which “a change-averse union” was partly to blame to the Voice of America’s problems. We responded directly to Mr. Warren for this misperception. Read more >>>

Another year is about to end, and to our members we wish the very best for the holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year. Read more >>>

Taking on those entrenched in higher management positions is not an easy task. The former Chief of the U.S. Park Police mirrors our own efforts.

 

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Recently The Washington Post printed a story that bolstered our argument that management’s efforts to end direct broadcasts and convert the Agency to primarily an Internet entity is a mistake. Read more >>>

Two years ago 16 employees in Miami at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting were illegally RIFed. Be thankful that you weren’t one of the Miami 16.

 

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An argument against eliminating shortwave radio broadcasts. Read more >>>

President Obama met and praised Cuban dissidents on November 8th. AFGE Local 1812 wonders if he knows of a Cuban emigre who was working at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and who was being treated shabbily by federal officials. Read more >>>

At the VOA, the content of the stories no longer seems to matter. What counts with BBG officials is what platform it appears on. Read more >>>

The BBG released initial results from the 2013 OPM Employee Viewpoint Survey on Friday, November 11th. Participation was much higher than in previous years. Read more >>>

Since Fiscal Year 2008 the BBG has more than doubled the number of employees in General Counsel's Office. Read more >>>

The tireless work of AFGE President J. David Cox and other AFGE officials helped to end the government shutdown and ensure that federal employees would receive back pay. Read more >>>

We have heard numerous complaints from Congressional staffers that BBG/IBB officials have used the Firewall (the protection embedded in the VOA Charter from political interference in the news product of the VOA) to ignore the will of the Congress and other entities. This selective use of the “firewall” has made some on Capitol Hill more willing to restructure the BBG. Read more >>>

Hundreds of AFGE members braved the cold, rainy October weather to express their dissatisfaction with being held hostage by fringe group in the Congress. Read more >>>

AFGE Members joined other Federal workers for a rally on Capitol Hill to demand an end to the Government Shutdown. Read more >>>

Broadcasting Board of Governors member Susan McCue has been appointed to the Board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and will be leaving the BBG. Read more >>>

The people running the VOA no longer seem interested in following the mandate to present U.S. views to the world. Providing news about events impacting the White House and the State Department is not necessarily acting as a propaganda mouthpiece. Read more >>>

U.S. Presidents from Truman to Reagan knew how important it was to combat false ideologies with the truth. It’s been a long time since the VOA and the other broadcasting elements have been used effectively in this effort. Read more >>>

For years, we at AFGE Local 1812 have been concerned about the bloated bureaucracy whose stranglehold on the Agency has increased at the expense of its primary mission: news coverage and telling America's story to the world. Recently concrete evidence of this bloated bureaucracy was posted on the website BBG Watch. Read more >>>

You hear the argument that unions served a purpose in the past but there is no longer a need for unions. Read more >>>

If you refuse to walk in lockstep, at the worst-managed Agency in the Federal government, be prepared to get hammered. Read more >>>

Apologists for the BBG/IBB Executive Staff have started to appear with some regularity in the blogosphere. Read more >>>

Voice of America officials, even the Director, are not truly free to publicly represent the best interests of the organization. The BBG/IBB Executive Staff have too much control over VOA officials. Read more >>>

David Ensor claims there is no plan to de-federalize the Voice of America. The evidence suggests otherwise.

 

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Agency officials keep implying that they did nothing wrong when they hired non-U.S. citizens for positions for which suitably qualified U.S. citizens applied. Instead Agency officials imply that the U.S. citizens were not qualified to do the work. Read more >>>

Former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe will no longer be on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. Senate having confirmed former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker to replace him on the bipartisan board in charge of U.S. international broadcasting, as requested by the White House.

 

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Despite their best efforts, Agency management has found it difficult to jettison its most effective means of reaching an audience. Read more >>>

While Agency managers were busy trying to improve their results in the OPM Employee Viewpoint survey, they were working behind the scenes to prevent the possibility of ever again being rated as the worst management in all government - do away with all rank and file federal employees and there will be no survey and no results Read more >>>

Why would Agency officials not jump at the chance to rehire employees who were ruled to be illegally fired when positions are announced for which they qualify? It couldn’t possibly be because these employees were targets of Agency management’s animus.

 

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All is not fine and dandy at the VOA no matter what Agency officials may say. If you are willing to speak up be prepared for an onslaught.

 

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The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing about the BBG entitled “The Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency Defunct”. Three witnesses were called to testify and all three had different ideas on what U.S. International Broadcasting was meant to do. Read more >>>

Employees would rather be treated with fairness, dignity and respect rather than to be served treats. Read more >>>

This is the second article of a series in which we put some of these issues in the spotlight. Some are a part of the background or undercurrent of VOA workplace culture, some are concrete and specific, coming from and contributing to our workplace culture. The goal is not to be negative or discouraging, though it may seem so at times, but to put a light on items many see as needing attention, and perhaps correction, with the idea that improvement is possible if we’re willing to start by being honest and open with problematic issues. Has VOA management truly begun sailing toward a better Agency for employees, or is management pointing to a brighter horizon while still tied to unsuccessful moorings? Read more >>>

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley’s opinion piece in The Washington Post resonated with us here at AFGE Local 1812. Read more >>>

A culture of intimidation is alive and well within the International Broadcasting Bureau. The unaccountable bureaucrats within the Agency not only try to intimidate those who are charged with overseeing them but also even those who attempt to hold them accountable in the Press. There may be no barriers as to whom they will attempt to smear and intimidate.

 

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To some in management retaliation which contributes to the horrible morale problem is just a matter of perception. Read more >>>

Part of the problem at the Agency may be due to the ways of former private sector employees. Read more >>>

AFGE Local 1812 has obtained a document in which Agency managers are being recruited by upper management to cajole employees into filling out the Annual OPM Employee Viewpoint Survey. The document even suggests informing employees about so called “differences” that have been made as a result of the survey. Read more >>>

Has there really been any significant change at the Agency that would result in improved morale? And why would the White House wish to remove the member of the Board who is the most vocal supporter of improving morale?

 

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As VOA employees, don’t most of us believe in the idea of a VOA that carries out its mission well? We often see opportunities and challenges that can be faced with enthusiasm and resolve in carrying out VOA’s mission. Many of us also experience workplace issues that are discouraging and tend to dissipate the energy of the otherwise justifiable enthusiasm we might carry.

We’re starting a series in which we hope to put some of these issues in the spotlight. Some are a part of the background or undercurrent of VOA workplace culture, some are concrete and specific, coming from and contributing to our workplace culture. The goal is not to be negative or discouraging, though it may seem so at times, but to put a light on items many see as needing attention, and perhaps correction, with the idea that improvement can come about if we’re willing to deal honestly and openly with problems.

 

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While Agency officials are busy trying to convince employees that they are truly interested in improving the abysmal morale problem, their actions speak otherwise.

 

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While IBB managers are pushing hard for employees to participate in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, mandating service chiefs to encourage their staffs to do so, and providing them with talking points to convince skeptical employees, AFGE Local 1812 members tell us it’s hard to muster any enthusiasm for that annual ritual. The big question on many members’ minds is: here we go again, but when, if ever, will anything change? Read more >>>

There are over 20 unfilled positions in the English-language Newsroom which are likely to disappear in the pending RIF, while language services struggle to do the work that the Newsroom used to do. You know, basic stuff like putting out news relevant to their region of the world. Read more >>>

It’s come to our attention that with the pay of Federal employees frozen for three years, while inflation rears its ugly head and health, transportation and food costs go up ever higher, some Agency employees are resorting to freelance work outside the Agency to make ends meet. Read more >>>

AFGE Local 1812 remains concerned over an OIG investigation that was recently conducted at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The investigation and subsequent report seemed intent on limiting the BBG’s role and strengthening that of the IBB Executive Staff. Read more >>>

Anyone walking around the Cohen Building is well acquainted with the many virtuous postings, initiated by IBB officialdom, regarding, among other things, the need for employees to be courteous to one another.  Read more >>>

We have several suggestions for management on ways to deal with the cuts made necessary by the sequestration process:  Read more >>>

The President of the largest federal employee union criticizes parts of the Obama budget plan for FY 2014. Read more >>>

On the first full day of Spring 2013 the Agency released its action plan for improving morale.  We find that the disappointment in the air is not limited to just the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil. Read more >>>

The Hartman v. Albright case may have cost U.S. taxpayers some 500 million dollars in 2001, but Agency Executives were able to simply shrug and move on. They were protected by legal immunity granted to public servants in their official duties. 
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Al Kamen of the Washington Post wrorte an article recently in which he repeated some favorite talking points of members of the BBG Executive staff.  We sent him the following. Read more >>>

Recently, FACEBOOK announced that it believed that its position in the market was not as dominant as it once may have been. Read more >>>

AFGE members can make a donation to help those who are still in need due to Superstorm Sandy. Read more >>>

The Agency released information on how to file for unemployment benefits during the threatened government shutdown of 2011.  The How-To Guide is still valid for the sequester we face now. Read more >>>

Is Social Media all that it is cracked up to be? In a commentary published in Foreign Policy, an expert believes it isn't. Read more >>>

We continue a series of articles dealing with the senior executive staff’s plan to gut the Voice of America. The plan involves cutting the heart out of the organization which would allow for the possibility of either splitting off or eliminating its multiple services. If this plan is implemented it will be a disaster for the VOA. Read more >>>

 We continue a series of articles dealing with the senior executive staff’s plan to gut the Voice of America. The plan involves cutting the heart out of the organization which would allow for the possibility of either splitting off or eliminating its multiple services. If this plan is implemented it will be a disaster for the VOA. Read more >>>

Those of us who have been warning for a number of years that an opaque bureaucratic apparatus was taking over the broadcasting agencies of the U.S. government are comforted by the light being shone at long last from outside on that bureaucracy. Read more >>>

We continue a series of articles dealing with the senior executive staff’s plan to gut the Voice of America. The plan involves cutting the heart out of the organization which would allow for the possibility of either splitting off or eliminating its multiple services. If this plan is implemented it will be a disaster for the VOA. Read more >>>

We begin a series of articles dealing with the senior executive staff’s plan to gut the Voice of America. The plan involves cutting the heart out of the organization which would allow for the possibility of either splitting off or eliminating its multiple services. If this plan is implemented it will be a disaster for the VOA. Read more >>>

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