Sources told BBG Watch that the Management/Labor Forum meetings have produced few, if any, results. Union officials called them a waste of their time. One source told us that the Union has been treated like a step-child:
“We’ve been attending the meetings but the Agency has not involved AFGE in any serious pre-decisional discussions – like the proposed RIFs or cuts in the budget – and VOA Management (namely Steve Redisch) insisted that he and his team was duly authorized to talk to the Union on behalf of the BBG, but President Obama’s Executive Order setting up Labor/Management forums in 2009 throughout the government explicitly states Unions should meet with the highest levels of management to discuss issues.
Nobody on the BBG Board of Governors even knew the forum existed so how could they know to participate. Even if you consider the IBB the highest level of management within VOA, then former IBB acting Director Dan Austin and current IBB Director Dick Lobo never appeared to talk to the Union that represents over 800 employees at the Voice of America, the Greenville N.C. transmitting facility and in the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in Miami.”
March 5, 2012
Mr. Jack Welch, Senior Advisor
International Broadcasting Bureau
Room 3300 Cohen Building
330 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20237
This is to inform you that AFGE Local 1812, in consultation with its Executive Board, has decided to suspend its participation in the Labor/Management Forum. The Agency announcement of February 13, 2012, which proposed a major Reduction in Force amounting to approximately 25% of the existing workforce, is the main reason for our withdrawal. However, there were other serious management actions during prior Forum meetings which the Union believes were unacceptable including but not limited to the following:
• Management’s reluctance to share any meaningful pre-decisional information with the Union including dramatic changes such as the recently-announced proposed RIF and prior to that, in February 2011, the proposal to end radio/TV broadcasts to China. Although that management decision was reversed by the Congress due in no small part to efforts of the Union, there was no substantive discussion of that issue at any of our management/labor Forum meetings last year.
• For many months, the Agency had been working on a five-year strategic plan. Yet, when asked for a copy of this plan at a Forum meeting, the Union was told it was not available. Union representatives only received a general briefing by a member of the Executive Staff with few specifics but were denied an advance copy of the plan for discussion. The Union saw the strategic plan just as everyone else did when it was released on the Internet. This action, we believe, was in direct violation of the letter and the spirit of the White House directive.
• Management refusal to allow pre-decisional input to any meaningful extent according to the process outlined in the Executive Order. Instead of cooperation, we have encountered frequent instances of management intransigence and delaying tactics.
• This Union has joined with two others in supporting the launching of two or three significant task forces. It was revealing, however, that the report of one – on Performance Management – has apparently been put on the shelf and ignored, as so many other reports that took considerable time, thought, and effort have been, and it is unacceptable to us. That was not the spirit or intent of creating those task forces.
In talks with the National Union and with representatives of the National Council on Labor-Management Relations, we were informed that Labor/Management Forums have worked in a number of federal agencies; however, in others, they have not. Evidently, we are one of the agencies where it has not been that productive. Because of management’s recent actions in proposing what we can only describe as a devastating and unnecessary RIF as well as a sweeping reorganization of the Agency with no input from or discussion with Union representatives, AFGE Local 1812 must now devote its energies to preserving not only the workforce but also what we believe is the essential mission of the Agency.
AFGE Local 1812 is open to rejoining the Forum if and when these issues are addressed to our satisfaction.
Tim Shamble / President
AFGE Local 1812
C:Tim Curry / OPM Deputy Associate Director