National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216, AFGE, AFL-CIO
Office of the President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Gabrielle Martin
November 16, 2004 (303) 866-1337
AT UP TO 36 OPERATORS, POOR HOURS AND A $4.0 MILLION DOLLAR PRICE TAG, UNION CALLS ON CONGRESS TO HALT EEOC’S CALL CENTER
The National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216, AFGE/AFL-CIO, the union which represents employees at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is calling on Congress to avert a budgetary crisis at the civil rights agency. Pending Congressional approval, the EEOC is planning to pay Pearson Government Solutions $4.9 million dollars to operate a call center, which will only have up to 36 customer service agents available to answer civil rights inquiries nationwide.
The EEOC’s Chair Cari Dominguez has attempted to bill this outsourcing move as good for customer service. However, prominent labor unions and civil rights groups have opposed the call center plan. Gabrielle Martin, President of the National Council of EEOC Locals, questions if the call center plan is fiscally sound: “I fail to understand why the EEOC insists on throwing tax payer money away on a pricey call center. For less than a million dollars, a fraction of the call center plan, the EEOC could employ one investigator support assistant in each of EEOC’s 51 offices. Not only does the call center fail to provide an operator per EEOC office, but also these agents will only receive 6 to 7 days training in EEOC’s laws. The public deserves better.” EEOC could also update its telephone and computer technologies in its offices, to help its employees better serve the public.
Based on the outlines Congress has drawn for EEOC’s 2005 budget, the agency will have to slash its operations to pay for Chair Dominguez’s multimillion dollar pet project. Earlier this year the House has voted to fund the EEOC at $15,810,000 below the budget requested by the agency. In September EEOC’s Senate subcommittee recommended cutting the EEOC’s request by $23,243,000. Both recommendations provide little more than inflationary increases at best, and the final figure is yet to be determined. It was only two years ago that EEOC had to request emergency funding to avoid furloughing all of its employees. Since then, EEOC has had to transfer cases all over the country in order to get the work done, because it does not have enough staff.
Martin foresees the EEOC closing offices as well as providing fewer services to the public at the remaining offices in order for Chair Dominguez stubbornly to pursue her call center. The EEOC commissioned a workgroup in the last several months to report on a plan to reduce the agency’s field structure to 10 or 11 “mega” offices. “The handwriting is on the wall. The agency cannot pay for the call center without closing offices and reducing services at existing offices. The EEOC does not have to be in this position. Drop the call center and the books will balance without having to cut services.”