FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2018

Contact:
Tim Kauffman

202-639-6405/202-374-6491
tim.kauffman@afge.org

EEOC Union IDs Budget Priorities to Ensure Civil Rights in #MeToo Era

Categories: Workers Rights

AFGE council says funding boost should be used to improve public services

DENVER – The union representing federal employees charged with enforcing workforce anti-discrimination laws says the bipartisan spending bill that President Trump signed into law March 23 will provide a much-needed spending boost to the chronically underfunded Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The American Federation of Government Employees’ National Council of EEOC Locals (Council 216) says EEOC will receive a $15 million funding increase through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“We are thrilled for the nation’s workers that Congress has shown its bipartisan commitment to civil rights,” Council 216 Chair Gabrielle Martin said. “Now we need to ensure that EEOC uses the increase well, to provide front-line resources to help the public.”

In that spirit, the council has identified a list of spending and management priorities for the agency that will translate into real help to the public.

“The union is sharing this wish list because we are on the front lines and know what would make a difference in more efficient service and help for those experiencing discrimination, including sexual harassment, and to prevent it in the first place,” Martin said. “EEOC must use the funding to help workers, rather than squander funding on case closure schemes that focus on quotas or inefficient micromanagement.”

EEOC’s front-line staffing is at an historic low. The demand for intake appointments exceeds available EEOC staff. The public can wait an hour for live help from the 1-800 number. Average processing delays are over 10 months. EEOC has pointed to lack of resources in promoting controversial strategies to “substantially reduce inventory” that result in fewer mediations and more case closures without substantive processing, Martin said.

Council 216’s list of spending priorities:

  1. Restore EEOC front-line staffing: Front-line positions that will make a difference include investigator support assistants (the union promotes a plan to utilize “ISAs” to focus on intake so that investigators can have time to process pending cases and provide education outreach), investigators, mediators, administrative judges, information intake representatives, and support staff.
  2. Flatten EEOC’s top-heavy 1:5 supervisor-to-employee ratio: EEOC has too many layers of management removed from helping the public. Hiring front-line, paraprofessional, and clerical staff is more cost effective than hiring GS-15 managers and Senior Executive Service (SES) positions.
  3. Invest in technology to make EEOC’s new digital charge and appointment system more user friendly and accessible: EEOC’s digital systems were built on a 1990s platform that undermines efficiencies. Workarounds make the systems awkward to use and incompatible with smartphones.
  4. Stop EEOC’s costly turnover as demoralized staff run to the doors and take knowledge and training with them: EEOC should practice what it preaches. The agency’s reasonable accommodation program is in shambles after duties were routed without notice from the disability program manager to a human resources attorney, whose other responsibilities include disciplining and terminating staff. The agency’s OEO department is unresponsive and has made zero findings of discrimination. FLRA has issued three Unfair Labor Practice complaints against EEOC, one escalating to a summary judgment order.

“The #MeToo movement highlights EEOC’s important work and leads people to our door,” Martin said. “Congress has shown its commitment to civil rights with this budget. Now EEOC must show that it is up to the task of deterring discrimination that robs workers of the American dream. EEOC must not squander this budget and must ensure desperately needed front-line assistance for the public.”

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