AFGE Local 1812

The Rule of Law

On March 10, 2015, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (the three-member panel which adjudicates exceptions to arbitration decisions), ruled against the Broadcasting Board of Governors in the case of the BBG’s failure to give United States citizens priority consideration in promotions.

The case has been a long-running affair. The Union filed the original grievance in June 2006, alleging that the Agency was failing to provide United States citizens priority consideration in filling Agency positions. The BBG was routinely hiring non-U.S. citizens despite the presence of qualified United States citizen candidates.

On August 27, 2007, Arbitrator George E. Marshall, Jr. ruled in AFGE Local 1812’s favor and ordered the parties to jointly work out a final remedy. When the parties failed to reach agreement on a remedy, Arbitrator Marshall ordered one on June 25, 2010. His remedy was closely aligned with the Union’s proposed remedy.

In September 2010, the BBG filed exceptions to Arbitrator Marshall’s award (similar to filing an appeal in Court) with the FLRA. On November 25, 2011 the FLRA ruled against the Agency. The Agency then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. (The Congress established the FLRA to adjudicate all disputes regarding violations of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. However, the Courts have allowed limited reviews of FLRA decisions). The BBG later requested that their appeal be withdrawn (we suspect the Solicitor General would not allow it to go forward) and the Court dismissed the appeal on April 24, 2012.

In November 2012, in a message to Agency employees, former IBB Director Richard M. Lobo and VOA Director David Ensor stated that they planned “to use all legally available means to contest the (FLRA’s) decisions, and will oppose any effort to force upon the Agency a policy that we strongly believe is illegal, unfair to our non-citizen employees, and contrary to our mission.”

The BBG then continued its behavior of refusing to abide by the Arbitrator’s decision and award. Despite what they stated and with all due respect to Mr Lobo and Mr Ensor, the Agency had now exhausted its legally available means to contest the decision. The Union was forced to file an unfair labor practice charge against the BBG for their continued illegal actions. The FLRA issued a complaint against the BBG and on May 28, 2014 Administrative Law Judge, Charles R. Center issued his ruling against the BBG stating:

“ …the Respondent’s opposition ceased to have any legitimate legal basis on April 24, 2012, when the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the petition for review of the Authority’s decision. Since that dismissal, the Respondent has continued to refuse to comply with the awards and is using illegal means to avoid the obligations imposed by its own negotiations as well as the Statute.”

The Agency then filed exceptions with the FLRA to the Judge’s ruling.

Now, once again, in 68 FLRA No. 60 (, the FLRA has ruled against the BBG, upholding the Judge’s ruling and finding that Agency officials had committed an ULP by failing to comply with the final binding arbitration award. The BBG was then ordered again to comply with Arbitrator Marshall’s award. This new FLRA decision clearly indicates that it was the Agency that was advocating an illegal policy which the Union contends was unfair to our U.S. citizen employees who, in the eyes of the law, have certain rights which non-citizens do not have. There is nothing at all contrary to the VOA mission in the FLRA decision.

Recently, Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng visited the Voice of America. Chen became persona-non-grata in his home country of China when he began insisting that Chinese government officials simply follow their own laws. We are not surprised when a country like China violates the principle of the rule of law. However, the rule of law is an important principle of our democracy. It is a shock, at least to some, when government officials in the good ole USA do so and with impunity. Especially at an Agency charged with promoting the ideals that this country was founded on – including the rule of law – to the rest of the world.

Add just one more reason why reform legislation is necessary at the Broadcasting Board of Governors.


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