What would you do if you were wrongly accused of something you didn't do, about to lose your job, and told the only place for you to get justice is this tiny, understaffed agency that wouldn’t take up your case until a year or two later? Could you afford to wait for justice?
Thanks to a new proposal that scenario could become a grim reality for EVERY federal employee. Here's what you need to know.
It’s 2016, and everybody claims to want to build the workforce of the future. But proposals like this would actually reverse the workplace rights that we won in 1978.
Some would like to bury it in must-pass bills so pro-worker lawmakers will be forced to support it regardless of what they think about it.
If you work for a living, you should pay attention. If you're a public servant, you should be alarmed. Here’s why:
Right now, public servants have the right to join in union with their coworkers to improve the workplace. But that right, along with the ability to resolve problems quickly and effectively, is about to be taken away. Congress won’t explicitly prohibit you from coming together with your coworkers, but they’re dramatically tipping the scales in management's favor and selling out the workforce in the process.
Currently, a simple process allows you and your coworkers to protect and defend yourself if your manager unfairly rates your performance and wants to cut your pay, reduce your grade, suspend you for a long period of time, demote you, or fire you. It's a simple, efficient process that allows you to quickly and effectively appeal, or “grieve”, that unjust action to the higher-up in your agency and then a third-party independent judge called an arbitrator.
Many cases are settled during the grievance process without even going to arbitration, saving thousands in legal fees. The process is similar to an alternative dispute resolution process that is widely used in the private sector.
Under this new proposal, you will no longer have the power to grieve an unjust action to your agency or bring your case to a third-party arbitrator. Instead, you have to take your case to the tiny, 220-person Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which would be required to review similar cases of the entire federal workforce of 2 million employees. It could take years for them to take up your case. Can you imagine being bullied and working in a hostile environment for years? When justice is delayed, justice is denied.
The proposal undermines the whole concept of solving workplace problems quickly through the well established grievance and arbitration procedure.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) is tasked with promoting good working relationships between management and employees. It also resolves disputes over things like contract violations and your ability to come together with your co-workers. But under this proposal, the FLRA would be weakened tremendously as its rulings would no longer be final and binding. Your agency can appeal the FLRA’s decisions to federal court, dragging the cases on for years on end.
This proposal would throw away a system that works for employees and agencies and force everyone into a costly and lengthy cycle of litigation.
This proposal is nothing more than an attempt to dismantle the civil service as we know it, kill employees’ morale, and undermine working people's unions.
The federal government is supposed to lead by example. And by example we mean a good example.
Remember the VA doctor who was retaliated against for sounding the alarm about a chronic shortage of doctors who treat troops with post-traumatic stress disorder? If Congress changes the rules, she would be unjustly punished for trying to save lives and we wouldn’t be able to help her as quickly and effectively.
This proposal encourages managers to become bad bosses and opens a floodgate of abuses, retaliation, nepotism, favoritism – the enemies of good government. By allowing managers the freedom to block problem resolution by delay, the ideas would hurt employees and also hurt overall agency performance. Problems would be allowed to continue unaddressed and unresolved. This concept puts the interest of a single manager who is more interested in their personal " authority" than the well being of the employees or the agency.
We should strive to improve conditions for working people, not worsen them.
Visit AFGE.org for more information on what you can do.