COUNCIL 216 NOTES
MARCH 9, 2005
I spent the afternoon of March 7 and March 8, 2005 in Washington, DC. I addressed several matters. I attended the agency’s All Employee Meeting the morning of March 8. The theme was Customer Service and for those unable to be connected by videostream, which are most EEOC offices, or who received notice too late to attend, it was different from prior meetings, but in large part, much the same. It was the same in that the Chair has all the Headquarters offices talk about their programs and accomplishments and the same in that Commission spends a lot of money on the affair at the expense of things like awards and training. Now that we all know that it costs $30,000 for that meeting, it is an even more painful reiteration that money that could be better spent on training and hiring is spent on an awards ceremony that few employees in the Commission get the opportunity to participate in or attend. Not to take away from the hard work of employees throughout the agency, but most offices do not get anywhere near $30,000 for an awards program.
It was unlike other meetings in that Chair took off her gloves and façade. To the applause and cheers of staff, Commissioner Ishimaru raised the issues that are increasingly difficult for the Chair to defend. The issues include the lack of training money, lack of awards money, implementation of the Call Center and the impending Reorganization plan. Commissioner Ishimaru kept the meeting on edge. Comparing the money spent for the call center, to the amount of money spent for training throughout the Commission to the amount of money spent for the meeting, Commissioner Ishimaru was both elegant and purposeful. The Chair was increasingly agitated and angry. Though it is clear that many in the audience agreed with Commissioner Ishimaru, the Chair stooped as low as I have seen her stoop recently by acknowledging that she could not stop herself from personally attacking Commissioner Ishimaru and his staff for not having completed the only project I know that she dumped in his office – the Federal Sector Changes. As we all know, that project has been around for quite awhile because of the huge public outcry and objection to the proposed changes. What I guess the Chair wanted us to know is that she does not appreciate that she and her staff had the project for over three years. All they did with the project was anger most of the federal sector constituent groups and employees. I think that given all of the proposals we know have been sent to the Chair by the Union, federal sector employees, constituent groups and EEOC’S AJs, the project will take time and attention. We will see what happens next, but I do not think that Commissioner Ishimaru will be rushed into putting just any old proposal on the table.
Another highlight was my remarks. I really do have a "PETE". I really do not remember why I have it. Pete used to be under the desk in a box until someone asked me about it. Pete now sits on my window sill in his nest (the box he was shipped in). People have borrowed him to make their day. But the point is that EEOC needs to focus on those who contribute to the welfare of others and give service. It is not just about who processes the most of something. EEOC needs to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul and needs to find more and better ways to reward employees. I wonder how many awards or bonuses will be paid to call center employees? How we could use that money at EEOC! We need to contrast that with how few awards are given to EEOC employees. In the meantime, if you have a PET, you should share him. That seems all we are likely to receive. The full text of the remarks will be posted on the Council's website, www.council216.org.
Other activities included meeting with representatives of various legislators to help in the fight against the call center and the reorganization plan. I think people in Congress are starting to take a deeper look at these issues and the impact on their constituents. I met with staff from the office of Eleanor Holmes- Norton and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. Both of these offices have provided support for our issues and all indications are that they will continue their support as we raise the issues to another level. In an effort to garner even more support, I also met with staffers from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. This Caucus is Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Many of the members are signatories to the Tubbs-Jones letter. Grace Napolitano from California chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Charles Gonzalez from Texas chairs the Civil Rights Committee of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The staffers agreed to take the issue to their bosses and encouraged us to continue to garner broad based support throughout Congress.
In order to help increase the visibility of issue and to put a face on these issues, Mia Smith of AFGE's Women's and Fair Practices Department also attended these meetings. Mia reiterated that the face those protected by EEOC extends beyond women and minorities. The Women's and Fair Practices Department will also work with these legislators to increase the profile of these issues by attending various public meetings held by the legislators. Mia and the Women’s Department will continue to assist us in this regard, as we continue a multi-pronged approach.
As we continue the campaign, we need to make appointments with our representatives during the upcoming recess. We need to continue to work with constituent groups to elevate the issue of the loss of employment rights. We also need to find out when and where our representatives are holding town hall meetings and plan to attend. We can use those forums to ask questions that address our issues and educate others in attendance about the problems at EEOC. We will develop and post materials on the website to assist you with these tasks. By garnering support from numerous sources, we make it difficult for the Chair in her efforts to keep the issues under the radar screen.
I contacted pother Congressional caucuses and hope to schedule meetings. These include the Congressional Hispanic Conference, comprised of many Republican members of the House of Representatives, the Women's Caucus, that is a bi-partisan group of female members of the House and the Congressional Black Caucus, comprised of Democratic members of the House. I also will be contacting the Caucus of Asian Pacific American Representatives.
I cannot say too often that success on this issue will not come because I am the face of the Union for EEOC. Our success will come when all of our faces and the faces of local constituent groups become the "face" of and for this issue. After all, if EEOC cannot be trusted to enforce the civil rights laws, no one can enjoy a work place free from illegal discrimination. Each of us holds the power to help make it happen.
Finally, there are two pending issues on which you can submit comments. First, to the extent that you have not visited AFGE's website, www.AFGE.org, and submitted comments about the new personnel regulations, I urge you to do so. These regulations keep rolling and our failure to comment now means we will face with them in the very near future, when the same type of rules will apply at EEOC. Here is our chance to make a difference.
The other issue involves the regulations governing Compensatory Time for Travel. These website and the regulations and were sent out via e-mail a few weeks ago. If you still need the regulations, they can be found by clicking on the following link: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/pdf/05-1457.pdf. Some useful Q& A’s can be found by clicking on the following link:
http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2005/2005-03-att1.asp. Finally, some examples you might find useful can be found by clicking on the following link:
Although the interim regulations have been in effect, there is still an opportunity to provide me with comments. With this type of thing, the more comments, the better. Comments should be sent to me on or before March 16, 2005.