WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs fired 18 Neighborhood Stabilization Specialists (NSS), also known as Housing Inspectors, claiming that they failed to obtain the proper certifications in order to keep their jobs. The inspectors are members of AFGE, Local 2725. In March 2007, inspectors were given new Position Descriptions, which stated they must possess and maintain International Code Council (ICC) certification. The Union made numerous attempts throughout the year to discuss this new certification, however, DCRA refused to discuss the issue. Their response to every attempt amounted to “take it or leave it.” The inspectors were informed in March 2008 that they had until June 30, 2008 to obtain certification.
There also was no charge that inspectors failed to perform their duties or that the performance of their duties was not done correctly. In every case, the inspector performed his or her duties in a satisfactory manner. Some of them have received excellent or outstanding Performance Evaluations.
The Local is also concerned that the training offered to obtain ICC certification was given by an organization that also conducts 3rd party inspections under the purview of the DCRA, in direct competition with the current inspectors. “Is it reasonable to expect that our inspectors were given appropriate training by the same organization that is competing for their jobs? This clearly is another case of a government agency cutting hard working, loyal employees in favor of contracting out,” said Bunn.
For several years, AFGE Local 2725 and DCRA have been engaged in discussions about how to establish a standardized requirement that will improve DCRA’s and the inspectors’ ability to enforce DC’s housing laws and regulations. “The District deserves highly qualified inspectors in every discipline under the DCRA. That’s what it takes to protect the health and safety of the District’s residents, workers and visitors,” said Bunn.
“Unfortunately, our attempts to work through these inconsistencies with the DCRA have been met by a brick wall. We are pursuing every remedial action available, including filing grievances, filing an Unfair Labor Practices Complaint and taking appropriate action in DC courts in an attempt to halt the acts of the DCRA,” concluded Bunn.