AFGE Local 1812

REAL CHANGES OR BUSINESS AS USUAL?

The Agency bureaucrats want you to think that real changes are afoot at the Agency. “We’re listening, tell us what you think” is their new mantra, repeated in endless messages encouraging employees to take the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

And yet, if management was listening, why are we in the same spot we were one year ago? Has anything of any significance changed? Let’s see:

Contractors: some have been here for over 10 years, waiting for a slot and benefits such as retirement and health insurance. Have the problems with their compensation or opportunity for staff employment been eliminated? No such luck.

Labor/Management contract negotiations: still going on, well into their third year with the Agency now presenting last Best Offers that still try to gut employee rights. No end in sight.

Lunch time? Workers have expressed their wishes for straight 8-hour work shifts. Instead of being flexible, so far management is planning the opposite.

The Central Newsroom: still over 20 positions not filled, barely managing, with the Agency planning more cuts and all the changes to the Newsroom making things worse, not better.

Language services: overwhelmed, cobbling things together, no matter what the impact on the programs.

Management/employee communications: yes, we’ve got a new layer of bureaucracy in the onerous Insight, but when management and employees speak, management still does not seem to hear.

Office of Cuba Broadcasting: the illegally RIFed employees are still watching their lives unravel, even though the FLRA ruled in their favor, while at the Cohen Building in DC, upper management continues to fatten its ranks.

U.S. Citizens arbitration: six years after their initial victory, with an arbitrator ruling in their favor, they are still waiting for their jobs/promotions.

Telework: employees are still complaining about being randomly taken off telework, prevented from doing more telework and the mindless paperwork and red tape involved to do telework.

Violations of merit systems principles: employees still complain about pre-selection, promotion and hiring of family members and non-competitive appointments.

No, nothing of any real significance has changed in the way IBB management bullies its way around to pursue its goals: replacing U.S. citizen employees with interchangeable and pliable foreign and domestic contractors with no benefits, and no rights to pursue such benefits, to create a semi-private entity that they can rule as a fiefdom, even as it fails to fulfill its Congressionally-mandated mission of presenting the story of the United States and its values to the world.

Nothing has changed in the way IBB management is racking up legal bills in the OCB and U.S. citizen cases. Bills that U.S. taxpayers have to eventually pay, long after the responsible management officials have retired and have been rehired as consultants by their friends in the Agency. Eventually, as was the case in the Hartman v. Albright case, the bills will come due. But in five or ten years, no one will be held accountable.

Nothing has changed in what seems to be management’s obsession to settle scores and get rid of, at all costs, one of the few BBG members who actually has had dialogue with employees, and has a perfect attendance record at BBG meetings. We speak here of the Republican BBG member who has become the conscience of this Agency, the Honorable Ambassador Victor Ashe.

There is a perception in the Agency, right or wrong, that since the Agency’s upper management was unable to get rid of Governor Victor Ashe using a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the State Department in 2012, that it has orchestrated another proposal behind the scenes: to have him replaced with the newest BBG nominee, former ambassador, Ryan Crocker, a widely respected diplomat. “What’s wrong with that?” they will ask (wink-wink).

There is nothing wrong with the appointment of the distinguished Ambassador Crocker to the BBG, who, judging by his sterling resume and his expertise overseas where our audience is located, will be a definite asset to the BBG. Ambassadors Crocker and Ashe are both needed at the Broadcasting Board of Governors to finish the reforms at the Agency and to strengthen America's voice abroad. Replacing Ambassador Ashe with Ambassador Crocker, who will have a learning curve before he realizes, as Mr. Ashe did, why Agency managers, year after year, are rated as among the worst in the federal government, is not necessary.

AFGE Local 1812 strongly opposes replacing Governor Ashe. Ambassador Ashe has our full support.

Why? Because Governor Ashe has had the rare courage and gumption to raise issues the Agency is supposed to promote in its global broadcasts, ideals such as more open government, human rights, workers’ rights and good governance. According to the annual OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, Agency managers have failed these ideals abysmally -- year after year after year after year.

We are still hopeful that things will change and that it will not be -- business as usual.
 

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