(Washington)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today reacted with cautious optimism to the news that Cari Dominguez, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, would step down at the end of her five-year term.
“This change in leadership comes at a critical time for the EEOC,” said Gabrielle Martin, president of the AFGE National Council of EEOC Locals No. 216. “Perhaps this change will be the catalyst needed to resolve the EEOC’s ongoing staffing and funding crisis. We feel strongly that Chair Dominguez’s record was mixed, at best.”
The EEOC has been under a hiring freeze since 2001 and has lost 20 percent of its workforce. Additionally, the agency’s own budget projections show that its backlog of cases will grow to 48,000 by fiscal year 2007. Despite the need for additional staff and other resources, the administration recently tried to cut the EEOC’s budget for next year by $4 million. However, in July, Senate appropriators led by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) restored the EEOC’s funding to last year’s enacted level of $327 million, rather than adopting the administration’s request to cut funding.
AFGE maintains that without proper funding to hire badly needed staff members, valid discrimination cases will remain unresolved and millions of people will be put at risk for continued acts of workplace bigotry.
In addition to extreme staff shortages and funding problems, Martin points to the EEOC’s reorganization plan and publicly criticized call center as evidence of mismanagement during Dominguez’s tenure. Despite the recent findings from the Office of the Inspector General highlighting the extremely poor results from the call center and the lack of cost effectiveness in the face of huge budget shortfalls and rising caseloads, Dominguez urged commissioners to vote to renew the call center for an additional year.
“The EEOC does good work, but it could and should do so much more,” said Martin. “However, EEOC’s efforts have been hampered by Chair Dominguez’s misguided efforts to streamline operations. Dominguez’s ‘improvements’ have only weakened EEOC services and put millions of workers covered by the nation’s civil rights laws in jeopardy.”
In May, AFGE launched the Protect Your Job campaign to bring attention to the EEOC’s growing budget crisis. For more information, please visit www.protectyourjob.org.