NATIONAL COUNCIL OF EEOC L0CALS No 216, AFGE, AFL-CIO
Office of the President
c/o Denver District Office, EEOC
303 East 17th Avenue, Suite 510, Denver, Colorado 80203
Tele: (303) 866-1337
Fax: (303) 966-1900
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Gabrielle Martin
May 16, 2005 (303) 725-9079
EEOC CANCELS RESTRUCTURING VOTE AFTER MOUNTING COMPLAINTS THAT PUBLIC WAS NOT GIVEN TIME OR OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was scheduled to vote today on restructuring its field offices. Commissioner Ishimaru, Commission staff and members of the press convened for the meeting. However, members of Congress, civil rights groups, and the Union which represents EEOC’s employees, spoke out against the agency’s refusal to allow the public an opportunity to respond to the sweeping proposal. EEOC had released some details of its nationwide “repositioning” plan less than a week ago. Today’s meeting, while open for “public observation,” did not allow for public testimony. While waiting for the other Commissioners to arrive, it was announced that the meeting was postponed.
Gabrielle Martin, President of the National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216, AFGE/AFL-CIO is pleased that voices committed to the civil rights mission of the EEOC spoke out against the agency’s apparent effort to ignore its constituents. “EEOC was created to serve the public, by making the workplace a fair place for all Americans. Today we can thank Congress, the civil rights community and members of the public who told the EEOC, ‘you work for us, not the other way around.’” No specific date has been named to reschedule the meeting. Martin hopes that the additional time will allow for “thoughtful review and debate of the agency’s plan. The Union is not opposed to change, but not change for the sake of change, or change for the worse.”
This past Friday Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Barbara Mikulski sent a letter to EEOC Chair Dominguez, signed by twenty five Senate colleagues, asking her to postpone the meeting and open the process. Congresswoman Lois Capps, along with thirty fellow Congresswomen, wrote a letter to EEOC’s Chair Dominguez. The Ranking Democrats from the House Labor Committees, and Congresswoman and former EEOC Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton, weighed in as well. Likewise, Chair Dominguez heard from civil rights groups around the country.
The restructuring plan downgrades one third of the district offices, including, Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, San Antonio, Seattle, and Milwaukee. The Union representing EEOC employees is worried that while the agency talks about cost-savings, the savings will come only if the agency continues its policy of not replacing employees who retire and closes offices in the near future. Martin states, “I am particularly concerned that this is nothing more than a shell game. Our staffing is at an all time low and our backlog of cases is exploding. This plan does not talk about hiring staff. It is inconceivable that a plan, years in the making, does not get to the heart of the problem. To help people we need people.”