(Topeka, Kansas)—In one of its more contentious election campaigns, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has been selected to represent federal employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (DVA) Topeka Shared Service Center in Kansas.
The election, held by mail ballot, took almost a year because of management foot dragging and intimidation. Topeka workers registered their overwhelming support for AFGE representation with a final vote tally on August 29, 2002: 74 for AFGE; 7 for No Union and 5 unresolved challenge ballots.
AFGE’s election petition was filed in September 2001. Shortly after the filing, management began asking questions in an effort to determine who had circulated and signed showing-of-interest cards, creating an environment of intimidation and fear.
Currently some 120 DVA employees work at the Topeka Shared Service Center which was originally created to administer the DVA’s “HRLinks” program. Under this program, started in 1997, employees at the Center were to handle all human resource issues for designated DVA facilities. In November 2001, DVA scrapped the program and began dragging its feet on the election, claiming it had not yet determined the fate of the employees at the Center as a result of the program’s cancellation.
At the present time much of the workforce at the Center is serving as a type of “call center” to confirm appointments at DVA facilities in Michigan, eastern Illinois and northern Indiana.
“Facing an uncertain future, these employees recognized the need for a strong, united voice to ensure they are treated fairly,” stated AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage. “And that’s what they’ll get with AFGE in their corner.”
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, is the largest union for government workers, representing some 600,000 employees in the United States and District of Columbia. AFGE represents approximately 140,000 DVA employees nationwide. To learn more about AFGE, visit www.afge.org.