AFGE Local 1812

Support for fired Radio Liberty Service Employees

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) employee union AFGE Local 1812 stated that it “joins in solidarity with the Radio Liberty Russian Service employees in protest against the en masse firings done without warning or consultation in an arbitrary and capricious manner”

“This decision marks another dark day for U.S. international broadcasting and may destroy the credibility and prestige of the United States in Russia. This shocking turn of events is yet another graphic example of the glaring fact, documented annually in the OPM Human Capital Survey, that the BBG/IBB has created the most hostile workplace in the federal government, not only domestically but now, internationally.

We feel the pain of those loyal and dedicated Radio Liberty employees herded into the meetings at an international law office watched over by security personnel as they received the news. There have been instances of employees at the Voice of America being treated the same way in a management exercise we call – being “frog-walked” out of the building – while being deprived of security passes and computer access under the watchful eye of Federal Protection Service agents. Guilty until proven innocent has become the credo of the management executives at the Voice of America which trumpets to the world our ideals of the rule of law, justice and fair play while denying their own employees those basic civil rights.

Thankfully, members of the bargaining unit at VOA and Radio/TV Marti, in contrast to the grantee organizations, still have employee rights protected by labor law. This enables the union to contest the illegal maneuvers of management in firing employees in a capricious and arbitrary manner. For example, the union was successful in the 2008 Office of Cuba Broadcasting case where management conducted an illegal Reduction in Force throwing 16 employees out in the streets. An arbitrator’s decision reversed that illegal action in 2011 and mandated that the employees be restored to their positions with back pay. In disregard of the arbitrator’s ruling, BBG/IBB management still refuses to comply and is using delay tactics to avoid implementation of the order, filing an appeal with the FLRA which was recently dismissed on all counts. There is still a chance they will take the case to District Court. Even though the Washington Post and other newspapers have publicized this issue bringing even more shame upon the Agency, the BBG/IBB persists in its belief that it is somehow above the law.

If not protected by the union and labor law, VOA and Radio Marti employees would, no doubt, suffer the same fate as the Radio Liberty employees. That was the scenario that the BBG/IBB envisioned when in February 2011 they entered the VOA China Branch and announced that in FY2012, they would fire 44 employees and dissolve the radio broadcasts of the Mandarinand CantoneseServices. Through the concerted efforts of the employees, the union, the press and the blogosphere, this issue was brought to the attention of the Congress which responded in a bipartisan manner with strong and direct language in the Appropriations bills and reversed the BBG decision thereby saving U.S. broadcasts to China.

We hope that if Russian-Americans in the United States learn of this debacleat Radio Liberty that they will appeal to their congressional representatives to reverse this action against the loyal, dedicated Radio Liberty Russian Service employees. We can safely say that many of these emigresfrom Russia to the U.S. at one time were listeners to both Radio Liberty and VOA.

Our hope is that the U.S. Congress would pass legislation to protect the overseas international broadcasting employees of the BBG so that they have the same basic rights as domestic employees at VOA and Radio/TV Marti.

AFGE Local 1812 believes that the main reason behind the BBG’spush for defederalizationof the VOA and Radio/TV Martiis so that they have the power to fire at will whomever they want, whenever they want, for just cause or not, just as they did at Radio Liberty.

We salute the employees of the Radio Liberty Russian Service and join them in solidarity. Together, we will continue to fight for the basic human dignity of all employees, for common decency and for those rights enshrinedin the U.S. Constitution which guarantee liberty and justice for all.”

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012