BBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from a Radio and TV Marti illegally RIFed journalist who wants to remain anonymous in order not to jeopardize the possibility of getting back to work with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which this journalist and other OCB employees illegally dismissed in 2009 want most of all.
Most of these U.S. federal government employees were recently given by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) part of their backpay. It was awarded to them by legal rulings that all went against the federal agency and its officials who were responsible for the illegal RIF (reduction-in-force) of OCB journalists five years ago.
The American Federation of Government Employees AFGE Local 1812, the NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) and former BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe, who have worked to achieve a just resolution, welcomed the partial concession from the BBG, but as this OCB journalist points out, the case is still far from being resolved. AFGE Local 1812, CUSIB and Ambassador Ashe are deeply disappointed that these journalists are not yet back at work. They continue to demand immediate reinstatement of OCB employees.
Some of these RIFed employees applied many times for vacant positions at Radio and TV Marti and were repeatedly rejected while OCB executives kept hiring others and brought in contractors to do some of the jobs these employees used to do. OCB desperately needs more employees. Its newsroom was essentially dark and empty in the middle of a weekday even while the BBG board was meeting last summer in a adjoining room at the OCB headquarters in Miami.
The fifth anniversary of the illegal dismissal of Radio and TV Marti journalists falls the day after Broadcasting Board of Governors open board meeting which is scheduled in Washington, DC for December 18, 2014. Members of the public can still sign up on the BBG website (www.bbg.gov) to speak at the board meeting in support of OCB journalists and on any other topic related to U.S. international media.
Views expressed are only those of the author and not of BBG Watch, its volunteers, or sponsors.
We invite those with opposing views and others who want to comment on this or other issues followed by BBG Watch to submit their op-eds for consideration.
This five-year sentence we have had to endure in the hands of malicious bureaucrats needs to come to a close…NOW!
By Office of Cuba Broadcasting – Radio and TV Marti Journalist
In just a few days (Dec. 19), we, the employees who were illegally RIFed by OCB in 2009, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of our dismissal. The word celebrate, please understand, is used loosely. There will be no toasting to a better, new year! Unfortunately, we will still continue to exist in a state of limbo – not knowing what surprises 2015 will bring our way. During these last five years, we’ve endured psychological and physical distresses, strains on our relationships, foreclosures on our homes, unmanageable debt, and an overall sense of hopelessness and despair.
Every so often, we experience an inkling of optimism when a Court rules in our favor. So far, three separate tribunals have sided with us on all accounts. Yet, here we are, five years later, and we are no closer to receiving what is rightfully ours: our old jobs and back pay. More than one employee has approached me and said OCB executives have no plans to reinstate us but to put us in administrative leave. In theory, getting paid to stay home and do nothing sounds appealing. But what this will essentially do is isolate us once again. So, in the eventuality of another RIF, the directorate can easily justify that we are non-essential employees. And, not being able to return physically to work will limit our job prospects.
Recently, the Agency cut us a check, but not for the entire amount. I hope it realizes money will not pacify nor silence us until we receive everything the Courts have mandated. I often wonder…had this happened in the private sector, would the company’s head-honchos be behind bars and would its assets be frozen? We want to return to work and begin to carve out some sense of stability for ourselves. This five-year sentence we have had to endure in the hands of malicious bureaucrats needs to come to a close…NOW!
I’d like to recognize the efforts of all who have been instrumental throughout this nightmare: Tim Shamble, Leisha Self, Matt Milledge, former BBG Governor Victor Ashe, Niurka Fernandez-Morel, BBG Watch’s Ted Lipien and Ann Noonan, and finally my RIFed colleagues who have been trudging along awaiting justice! If I left someone out, I apologize.
In closing, what I hope to find under the tree this year is not a big, red box with a shiny bow. My wish is to locate what I’ve been searching for during this half decade – stability and peace of mind that only what is duly ours can provide! I hope the surprises awaiting us for 2015 consist of the Agency finally taking responsibility for its unfounded, malicious actions and complying with the Courts’ mandate!