BBG Watch Commentary

Happy Thanksgiving to all BBG Watch readers and contributors.

We repost today a commentary by American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812, which represents federal employees of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

AFGE Local 1812

A Time to Give Thanks


By American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812

Cold and snow are descending upon the Northeast and we are reminded that winter and the Holiday season begin this week. Many of us will soon be gathering with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. In Miami, there is no threat of snow as it is a bit warmer, not only weather-wise. A dozen or so OCB employees have an added reason to celebrate this year with family and friends.
Why? On November 19, 2014, the illegally RIFed employees at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting discovered that sizable partial payments for the Back Pay they are owed had appeared in their bank accounts. It was exactly three years ago to the day that they learned of Arbitrator Suzanne Butler’s decision that, after a long and involved arbitration case, awarded them back pay and reinstatement to their jobs. Although this is just the start in the final chapter of a long process (it won’t be over until all the employees receive all the Back Pay they are owed and all of them have been brought back to work), it is still time to give thanks for the fact that the settlement implementation process has begun.
So we would like to thank: Arbitrator Butler, who had the courage and ethics to follow the facts and rule accordingly, former AFGE Local 1812 Vice President Niurka Fernandez, who refused to allow injustice to stand and who fought tenaciously and passionately so that other Union officials understood what had taken place and convinced the AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board to take on this fight; the members of the AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board who voted to support the effort; the forceful, brilliant and idealistic AFGE attorney Leisha Self, who was indefatigable in presenting the employees’ case; the late AFGE District 14 National Vice President Dwight Bowman who lent his full support and AFGE District 14 resources to the effort; Broadcasting Board of Governors Member, Victor Ashe, a voice of reason, honesty and integrity, who publicly encouraged his fellow Board members to end the legal maneuvering and make restitution to those who had been wronged. Last but not least, thanks to CUSIB officials Ann Noonan and Ted Lipien who took up the illegally-RIFed employees’ cause, focused attention on the OCB case and refused to allow the BBG members to ignore it.
After the case was finalized in the courts in May 2014, but delays to the settlement award persisted over a number of months, we are thankful that the logjam was broken and so, give thanks to BBG Chairman Jeffrey Shell who directed Agency officials to stop the delays, do the right thing and implement the award, to Director of Engineering and Technical Services Andre Mendes who found a way to get the partial payments to the employees and in so doing, helped to prevent at least one of them from being evicted from his home. Finally, thanks go to all those who despite the threat of retaliation were willing to testify on behalf of their fellow OCB employees, because without the courage to stand up to the abuse of power, justice would never have been served.
From the AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board members, best wishes to all for a Happy Thanksgiving.