Federal Labor Relations Authority Judge slams BBG for law violations

BBG Watch Commentary

FLRA ORDER P. 3BBG Watch has learned that the Federal Labor Relations Authority Law Judge slammed the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in very sharp language for violating the law and “using illegal means” by failing to comply with a final arbitration award against the agency in a case involving hiring of non-citizens over U.S. citizens.

As a result of the violation, BBG lawyers were ordered by FLRA Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles R. Center to cease and desist from failing to comply with the awards issued by Arbitrator George E. Marshall, Jr, on August 27, 2007 and June 15, 2010, and to post a notice of the violation.

Considering the past conduct of BBG layers headed by GC Paul Kollmer-Dorsey, they will most likely file further exceptions with the FLRA. Any exceptions are due by June 30.

FLRA Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles R. Center chastised BBG lawyers in very sharp language by stressing that “after traveling the grievance process highway to distasteful bitter failure, the ability to belatedly raise jurisdictional arguments does not equate to drawing a card that returns you to go.”

FLRA Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles R. Center accused the BBG of “using illegal means” to avoid the obligations imposed by its own negotiations as well as the law.

BBG lawyers are, however, most likely to continue the grievance process to the bitter end and their final failure unless members of the BBG board put a stop to it now and save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars of additional costs while bringing justice to many mistreated BBG employees and qualified candidates for employment who were illegally rejected.

LINK TO FLRA DECISION

FLRA ORDER P. 1

FLRA P. 2

FLRA ORDER P. 3

For background information on this case, we include an article posted on the American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812, website. AFGE Local 1812 represents federal employees working for the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

AFGE Local 1812

ADDING INSULT TO INJURY

By American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812

For the past several years, Agency management has justified its refusal to comply with the law by repeatedly stating that the U.S. citizens it had illegally bypassed for promotions or jobs, in violation of the Smith-Mundt Act, were somehow inferior to the foreign aliens who had been given these opportunities. Nothing could be further from the truth. This Agency is not fighting a virtuous fight to protect itself from incompetent job-seekers. It is deliberately discriminating against qualified U.S. citizens, in violation of the law.

When AFGE Local 1812 took up these U.S. citizens’ complaints and filed a grievance on their behalf, their qualifications were reviewed by AFGE lawyers, and were not found to be professionally wanting in any way. The Arbitrator in the case agreed, and only one year after the grievance was filed, he ruled in 2007 that the U.S. citizen plaintiffs should have been hired or promoted, and should be compensated with back pay.

There was never any question as to whether they were qualified for the positions they had sought. In fact, through the Agency’s own hiring process it was determined that they were qualified. It is simply that the Agency decided to flaunt the law, and hire non-U.S, citizens instead. And they continue to do so.

Repeatedly and publicly belittling these wronged persons, as Agency management is doing, both orally and in writing, does not change the fact that they were qualified, as determined in the Agency’s own hiring process, and that they are legally entitled to the jobs and promotions they were illegally denied.

Agency officials repeatedly misstate the Union’s position in the case. The Union took the case because the Agency has the right to hire non-U.S. citizens only in the absence of suitably qualified U.S. citizens. The Agency had begun requiring U.S. citizens to be equally or better qualified than non-U.S. citizens in order to receive the preference in hiring they were legally entitled to.

The Agency can continue to flout the law at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, but in the end, it will have to comply with the Arbitrator’s decision. In addition to compensating the wronged U.S. citizens financially, it will owe them an apology. Trying to demean people whom you have wronged may be a well-honed tactic of this Agency. In the end, management will have to acknowledge that it is not above the law.

Unfortunately, U.S. taxpayers will have to pick up the tab, and the wronged U.S. citizens will have to put back together their careers, or for some, their lives. That this Agency does not care is not surprising, but it does remain beyond our understanding.

US Court of Appeals Decision May 16, 2014In yet another pointed rebuke to senior International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) officials, top executives and lawyers, some of whom for years have engaged in mistreatment and intimidation of journalists working for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) media entities, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed last month the latest agency effort to prevent illegally fired Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB – Radio and TV Marti) employees from getting justice and getting their jobs back.

In a written opinion on behalf of three judges, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge David S. Tatel dismissed the BBG’s petition for review for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In his opinion, Judge Tatel made a number of comments about mismanagement at OCB and attempts by both OCB and IBB officials to dismiss unwanted journalists and then defend their dismissal rather than implement management reforms. These officials have already wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars trying to keep OCB journalists from returning to work.

Former BBG member, Ambassador Victor Ashe, who had been especially crutical of the agency’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives and lawyers, issued a statement last month commenting on the United States Court of Appeals decision against them.

“Since I was first on the Board I urged settlement on an issue we inherited. But I was blocked by the BBG’s Legal Counsel. Once again we see the financial costs rising to over $4 million if BBG continues down this path. It is time to settle and treat these employees fairly. They have have suffered long enough,” Victor Ashe said.

After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its decision against the BBG on May 16, 2014, Tim Shamble, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812, a union representing BBG federal workforce, called for resignations of IBB officials responsible for prolonging “unimaginable hardship on … innocent employees and their families”:

“Agency management is at the end of the road for their legal delay tactics. It is time for someone in upper management to have the courage to end this and bring the illegally-fired OCB employees back to work and make them whole. All those who encouraged and participated in this strategy that caused unimaginable hardship on these innocent employees and their families should be held accountable. In the wake of this definitive decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, we can only hope that they would surprise us and find the decency to resign,” said Tim Shamble, President of AFGE Local 1812.

The union has not yet commented on the latest FLRA decision against the BBG. But former BBG member Ambassador Victor Ashe said in a new statement:

“This is another signal of BBG staff ignoring the law and moving full steam ahead without regard to what is right.  Tne Board must intervene if a remedy is to occur,” Ashe said.

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