Groups Warn EEOC Changes Could Lead to Unemployment, More Discrimination
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today joined several groups to highlight the crisis in staffing and funding at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency tasked with protecting employees and job applicants from workplace discrimination. Leaders from various civil rights groups joined AFGE in decrying proposed administration budget cuts that will further cripple the agency and put the livelihoods of millions of American workers at risk.
“The EEOC is in a state of crisis and is systematically being weakened from within to justify its elimination,” said AFGE National Vice President Andrea Brooks. “This administration is attempting to FEMA-nize the EEOC and eviscerate the agency’s ability to protect American workers.”
The EEOC, which handles discrimination cases involving age, religion, disability, sex, race and other issues, has lost 20 percent of its workforce and a hiring freeze has been in effect since 2001. Additionally, the agency’s own budget projections show that its backlog of cases will grow to nearly 48,000 in fiscal year 2007. Despite the need for additional staff and other resources, the administration still wants to cut the EEOC budget for next year by $4 million.
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 unemployment.
“Many Americans are hitting what some have coined the ‘silver ceiling,’ where age discrimination prevents continued employment or advancement,” said Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
“Cutting funds to the EEOC is like taking a homeless person’s coat in the middle of winter—making an already bad situation worse,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. “…We need an EEOC that isn’t threadbare—one that will enforce the protections guaranteed by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
In addition to calling for full EEOC funding, AFGE also called for the repeal of the agency’s recently implemented reorganization plan, a plan that AFGE feels is weakening service because of its emphasis on downgrading local offices and reducing staff, rolling back the rights of federal workers by eliminating administrative trial rights, and weakening access to the EEOC for the millions of workers covered by the nation’s civil rights laws.
Today’s event was part of a recently launched national awareness campaign focusing on the EEOC’s crisis. The campaign consists of newspaper advertisements and radio public service announcements running in large metropolitan areas. The campaign also features a new Web site, www.protectyourjob.org.
Participants in today’s event included leaders and representatives from the Alliance for Retired Americans; Asian American Justice Center; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance; Blacks In Government; Coalition for Labor Union Women; Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Rights Task Force; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; National Organization for Women; National Urban League; and Pride At Work.