NATIONAL COUNCIL OF EEOC
LOCALS NO. 216
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
AFL - CIO
Gabrielle Martin, President
303 E. 17th Avenue, Suite 510
Denver, Colorado 80203
Telephone: 303/ 866-1337
Facsimile: 303/ 866-1900
May 27, 2005
Dear Civil Rights Advocate:
I am writing to update you on events at EEOC and to ask that you take action on EEOC’s Self-Destruction plan. Your clients and constituents, as well as those in need of the protections EEOC is supposed to protect remain in danger of losing the very agency intended to protect their rights. So it is important that you act quickly, since the Self-Destruction plan for EEOC begins July 8, 2005, when the Commission votes. You have until June 17th to provide comments on the Self Destruction through EEOC’s website, www.eeoc.gov.
EEOC implemented its disastrous call center in March. As you are aware, on May 10, EEOC announced its reorganization, but was forced through our collective efforts to postpone that meeting. Although there are many questions that remain unanswered, EEOC intends to implement the reorganization plan within 15 days of the July 8, 2005 vote. In the meantime, EEOC announced on its public website, www.eeoc.gov, that it is accepting comments from the public through June 17, 2005. It is important that EEOC’s Chair hears from you and that you request two things. First, you need to request that the July 8 meeting be changed to a public hearing, so that there can be an open, on the record dialogue about the issues between and among concerned advocates, members of the public and constituents. Second, you must ask that any reorganization plan implemented reflect your concerns.
EEOC'S SELF DESTRUCTION PLAN
Although EEOC touts the plan as a cost savings mechanism, we cannot see where there will be any savings without either closing offices, forcing older workers with more expensive benefits packages out of their jobs, or letting go of employees. Otherwise, to maintain all of the current staff, open and staff two new offices, and obtain additional office space for the Mega Offices, requires money that we do not have. Even EEOC acknowledges that caseloads and the backlog are climbing in its FY 06 budget submission, making us even more ineffective than we are today.
There are other major problems with the proposed reorganization, the first of which is that it ignores the recommendations of EEOC’s senior managers not to get rid of District offices. By changing the designation of the office from District to Field, EEOC has in effect, downgraded and closed District offices. No longer will there be independent decision making at those offices. As a result, EEOC’s plan adds layers of bureaucracy making it very difficult to get the work done, if not next to impossible. Administrative support services for both District and Field offices are being stripped so that offices have to call ˝ way across the country just to obtain permission to buy pencils.
If it sounds like the EEOC Self Destruction Plan dooms EEOC to fail, EEOC’s plan is designed to do just that. The proposed reorganization plan creates “Mega Offices”. A review of the structure of these offices demonstrates that most are located in the eastern half of the country and that while the territories are huge, the location of the mega office typically is at an outer edge of the jurisdiction. Travel and expenses will increase as EEOC attempts to service the mega jurisdictions. Moreover, by expanding the reach of these mega offices and trimming administrative support from the majority of them, the offices exist in name only. These offices not only will be dysfunctional, these offices also will be without sufficient staffing or budgeting to conduct the mission related work. Although EEOC implemented its call center, it is understaffed, without a sufficient number of phone lines to handle the call volume and in the end, merely sends a message to an EEOC office that someone called. There are problems with this, since offices remain severely understaffed and the office receiving the message may not even be the office with jurisdiction over the matter, resulting in a second transfer of the information. Due to understaffing at the call center, often callers are instructed to call the local office. The one that currently is overwhelmed and suffering from sever staffing shortages.
What becomes of the smaller offices in the future? Will the smaller offices remain open beyond approval of the plan? If so, for how long and at what levels will the Commission staff these offices? Will any EEOC office under this plan be more than an office in name only? What savings is the Commission projecting to realize each year in the future by closing some or all of them? If the offices remain open and the net gain is two offices, how will the Commission save money, either today or in the future? If the small offices remain open, then how will EEOC continue its history of long term dedicated employees? With no advancement in most of the offices, employees who cannot relocate either will stifle in place or leave. As for the temporary and term employees, they will be recycled continuously since without further violations of the personnel rules, these employees will continue to leave for permanent positions with career ladder opportunities. The service we can offer in the smaller office will decline even further.
EEOC’s is destroying its mission related programs under this proposal. Investigations, mediations, litigation and hearings programs are impacted by the need to travel more. Without support staff at offices to assist while other staff travels to do investigate, mediate, litigate and hear cases, the Commission is wholly ineffective.
EFFICIENCIES CANNOT BE REALIZED
While shifting the shells, states once covered by one District’s jurisdiction now are covered by another District Office’s jurisdiction. There are at least 14 offices that will change reporting and or have their jurisdictional maps redrawn. There will be increased travel costs to service the larger jurisdictional areas. Our FEPA and TERO relationships will be damaged at a time when FEPA funding from the states has been drastically reduced.
Our partnerships with Mediation programs will falter. Even EEOC recognizes that the success of that program depends on the skills and relationships between mediators and the people we serve. Charging parties will be subject to the vagaries of changing mediators since the jurisdictions will change. The same is true of the TEROs and state Fair Employment Practice agencies. While EEOC exists, with its programs in disarray and in need of attention, this structure obviates any effectiveness.
Certainly, litigation programs will suffer. To the extent that they exist at all, it will be in the mega offices. Attorneys who cannot litigate will leave the Commission. Without a cadre of upcoming employees in any job group, any program will suffer. Smaller offices without attorneys will not be able to develop litigation quickly or effectively. This reverses the Commission’s trend of assigning and maintaining trial attorneys to each office so that the litigation program can be effective. While the smaller offices become less effective, the “mega offices” that are increasing their territory, but that do not have sufficient staff to begin with, fare no better. Increased travel and span of control, without sufficient administrative and support staff leaves these offices ineffective as well.
Moreover, the Commission’s proposal does not explain how consistency and uniformity among offices will be achieved. Staffing in the offices among districts is not and never has been uniform; District offices typically have larger staffs. These larger offices have different structures and can perform tasks in a certain manner. But, within a district, the smaller offices bear the brunt of lack of staff. Offices with fewer employees are more heavily impacted by things like workload, time spent in intake, time spent on support staff tasks such as copying and filing. The smaller offices cannot function in the same manner as the larger offices. How this equates to or results in uniformity and consistency remains unexplained.
The current staff cannot expect to see training or have technology upgrades under the Self Destruction plan.
AREAS OF CONCERN NOT ADDRESSED IN THE PLAN THAT PROHIBIT EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS:
The Commission's plan fails to allow it to achieve efficiency and greater effectiveness. In particular, the Commission's plan fails to address several areas of concern or specify how anything other than Self Destruction will be achieved. For example,
The proposal identifies several goals but fails to identify how the changes will allow the Commission to reach those goals. Public comment on the plan and the process of having to answer questions from the public and the employees who perform the work can only serve to develop a workable reorganization. I look forward to hearing from you about the hearing date
Write to Chair Dominguez and let her know that EEOC should not be destroyed. Use www.eeoc.gov to submit comments. Send letters to the Chair at Cari.Dominguez@eeoc.gov, or at the EEOC’s mailing address:
Cari Dominguez, Chair
1801 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20507
I would appreciate receiving a copy of any letter you send to the EEOC to help ensure that the letters see the light of day. We will post them, with your permission, on the Council’s website.
Should you need any additional information, feel free to contact me at the phone number listed above, or check the Council’s website at www.council216.org. Again, thank you for your support in addressing these important issues.
Gabrielle Martin, President