DENVER-- Despite the December 12, 2012 guidance from the Office of Personnel Management to engage in pre-decisional talks and discussions with unions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission refused to do so even though the union made numerous attempts dating back to November 2012. Now, EEOC has informed its union that they are working on a plan and will reveal details on March 4, 2013, three days after sequestration has begun.
“EEOC cannot tell its employees where they are attempting to save money to avoid or limit furloughing frontline staff for an estimated 9-15 days,” said Gabrielle Martin, president of the American Federation of Government Employees National Council of EEOC Locals No. 216. “I can tell you that before one employee gets furloughed, EEOC needs to scrub its budget for savings, create efficiencies and give up its sacred cows.”
Martin points to a list of potential savings, including:
(1) Cancel advertised training conferences in Chesapeake Bay in May and one in Denver in August, like GSA has done, citing budget uncertainty.
(2) Cancel and reduce contracts. While EEOC has failed to provide the Union with information on its contracts, the FY13 budget (chart 13) shows the number of contracts on the rise. An EEOC solicitation for a legislative tracking service is currently posted on fedbizopps.gov.
(3) Cancel the continuing unnecessary management travel. Four SES directors were spotted visiting a California field office this week, while video conference equipment sits idle.
(4) Implement the 2009 Union proposal to create efficiencies in the agency’s intake process to avoid subjecting the public to long waits and save money.
(5) Offer interested employees the opportunity to become part-time or request extended leave without pay. These programs were successful in offering flexibilities for those who wanted them and saved money during hard times in the past.
Martin laments, “EEOC employees face unpaid furloughs yet see the EEOC offering training events, flying its directors around the country, paying contract mediators and promoting its plans to have you pay to use your own device for work purposes.”
Adding insult to injury, the agency finally advised the Union of its knee jerk solution to manage the furlough days it could avoid - furlough employees in the first half of the alphabet on alternating Tuesdays and the second half on alternating Thursdays.
“EEOC’s alphabet soup plan will create massive dysfunction and disruption in offices," Martin said. "Moreover, without a functioning EEOC to stop workplace discrimination, the public will be transported back to 1963 when employment discrimination was rampant -separate want ads with different pay scales for men and women, applications of African American workers routinely thrown away, women were sexually harassed as a condition of employment, workers were fired employees just because they were 40 or older, and employers refused to hire, much less accommodate, a disabled worker. Victims of discrimination will feel these numerous and haphazard furlough days, which will impact civil rights law enforcement activities, disrupt access to file charges, increase case processing delays, disrupt mediation and settlement talks, and create huge backlogs.”