BBG Watch Commentary
BBG Watch has learned and reported earlier that thanks to the intervention of Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Jeff Shell, the BBG’s legal office will apparently not try to appeal one of the latest of many decisions by arbitrators and courts that went against the agency’s lawyers in cases involving critical labor disputes. Former BBG member, Ambassador Victor Ashe, welcomed the possibility of the settlement in the case of illegally dismissed Office of Cuba Broadcasting broadcasters. “The long nightmare of a lawsuit is now over. I hope the mistreated employees are soon back on the job and their lives improve now,” Ambassador Ashe said in a written statement.
Recent legal decisions represented a devastating loss for the BBG’s legal team and its strategy of supporting bad management decisions for many years as the agency was becoming more and more “defunct” to use the term Hillary Clinton used to describe the BBG’s media outreach.
One of the latest losses for the agency was in the case of Radio and TV Marti AFGE Local 1812 union employees in the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). Federal arbitrator found that they had been illegally RIfed (reductions in force) by the management in 2009. They have not been yet reinstated despite several legal orders to bring them back to work, as BBG lawyers kept challenging these orders. It appears that the OCB broadcasters may now return to work sometime in the near future, but nothing concrete has been yet publicly announced.
But it appears that BBG Chairman Shell has now made a decision not to allow IBB executives and lawyers to continue their past destructive management practices. These officials have prolonged the suffering and hardships of OCB’s illegally dismissed employees and severely damaged employee morale throughout the federal part of the agency. The BBG’s grantee entities are generally well managed, although there was a major management crisis at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in 2012 that has now been largely resolved thanks to the BBG board’s intervention and bringing to RFE/RL experienced journalist and CEO Kevin Klose who has since left.
The latest apparent change in BBG’s approach to management-labor relations would most likely not occur if it were not for the earlier persistency of the AFGE Local 1812 union, the AFGE national leadership, and the union’s lawyer who successfully represented OCB employees in their legal case. Former BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe helped to focus the attention of other BBG members on violations of employees’ rights and advised the current BBG Chairman Jeff Shell to right the wrong, save taxpayers’ money and order the settlement of the OCB case.
The long-lasting practice by some of the former and some still current International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives, as well as OCB and VOA managers, of ignoring labor laws and various federal regulations, has created one of the worst federal agencies to work for. The federal part of the agency has some of the worst management performance and low employee morale ratings, as measured in employee surveys conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Former BBG member, Ambassador Victor Ashe, who was the first persons on the BBG board to condemn these management practices and demand changes to bring justice to mistreated employees, issued a statement on the possible settlement of the OCB RIF case:
“Sad that this took this long for a wrong to be corrected but the long nightmare of a lawsuit is now over. I hope the mistreated employees are soon back on the job and their lives improve now. The American taxpayer has suffered due to unfortunate decisions by BBG leadership and legal counsel Paul Kollmer Dorsey,” former BBG Board member Ambassador Victor Ashe said today.