We Are Not All Together” were prophetic words from AFGE Local 1812, a union representing Broadcasting Board of Governors rank-and-file employees. These words were written just a few days before the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) released its budget proposal for FY2013.

Those representing BBG employees — we’re not even talking here about BBG-employed contractors who are exploited by the management and granted no rights to defend themselves — were right about everything.

Here are some of the things that the BBG management team has proposed just for the Voice of America:

Central News and English Divisions: Seventy-one (71) positions will no longer be required;

The budget request reduces Burmese staffing, eliminates VOA Lao service SW transmissions, and minimizes its Vietnamese radio broadcasts;

The budget also eliminates VOA Tibetan language radio;

This proposal would reduce staffing by one Burmese position, four positions in Lao, 10 positions in Vietnamese, and seven positions in Tibetan;

VOA’s Spanish Service: 14 positions will be eliminated;

VOA’s Radio Ashna: . This restructuring will reduce total radio output by half. VOA Ashna will need 10 fewer positions under this proposal;

The budget request eliminates VOA broadcasting in Cantonese. This would reduce staffing by 7 positions;

The budget request will reduce expenses and four staff positions related to VOA Georgian radio;

The VOA Bangla Service: six fewer positions;

The VOA Turkish Service: four fewer positions;

The proposal eliminates VOA radio broadcasts to Albania. Five positions will be reduced in this proposal;

Discontinue Broadcasting in Greek. Four positions will be reduced in this proposal.

Now read what the BBG employee union AFGE Local 1812 predicted the BBG management team might do:

We Are Not All Together

Recently we heard VOA Director David Ensor claim that “we are all one Agency” at the hastily put together VOA 70th Anniversary celebration.  The problem is – it isn’t true.

We will all be reminded of this shortly when the mavens of the third floor release their plan for FY 2013.  February 13th we will all learn once again that those on the third floor do not believe the employees – those that actually produce the products (you know broadcasts) of the Agency are part of the Agency.  The denizens of the third floor believe that they are the Agency.  They believe that without them there would not be an Agency.  They do not consider the employees as an essential part of the Agency.  It is amazing to us how quickly the new additions to management are co-opted by the old guard and how quickly they learn to parrot the familiar lines.

The announcement expected on the 13th will no doubt identify some language services that will be reduced or eliminated and the number of our fellow employees who will be thrown out of work and into potential poverty.

We will hear the tired old meme about how “hard choices had to be made”.   Agency officials will blame budget reductions but even when there were no budget reductions (the budget for the BBG had actually increased or remained the same every year since 2001) they were making their “hard choices”.  These choices are really based on a strategic plan that includes as an integral part the elimination of employees and has nothing to do with a lack of budget.  They have decided to eliminate the hard to jam radio broadcasts and concentrate on TV and Internet products that are easily interdicted.  They then have to spend millions on trying to fight the attempts at interdiction.  To pay for this they end more radio broadcasts and throw broadcasters out of work.  They are now actively working on privatizing the Federal components under the Broadcasting Board of Governors.  How are we all together when the third floor occupiers are actively working to throw all the broadcaster federal employees out of work?

The upper management of this Agency has declared war on the employees and the next attack is scheduled for Monday, February 13th.  It has been the same every February since the end of the USIA. In a little over a week employees will hunker down and hope the bombs are not aimed at them.

The question is will employees accept it or fight back?  Will those not taking the direct hit stand with their fellow employees and help them fight these unnecessary cuts?

Those who think a hard choice means selecting others for unemployment will never earn our respect.  You want to make a hard choice – propose cleaning out all the extra upper management positions including your own. Clear out those responsible for enabling the unnecessary retaliatory 2010 RIF of those employees at the OCB and those responsible for the continued dismal results on the OPM Employee Viewpoint surveys.  Rid the Agency of those that made the inexplicable decision to end the VOA Chinese broadcasts.  Now those would be examples of real hard choices – choices they are incapable of making.

Posted: Sunday, Feb 05, 2012

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