October 09, 2009
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

ICE Refusing to Answer Questions about Discriminatory Leave for Atlanta Flood Victims

(ATLANTA)—U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is refusing to answer questions about discriminatory leave practices for employees in Douglas County, Georgia, the American Federation of Government Employees Local 527 said today. AFGE has received reports that some ICE employees in Atlanta are being given administrative leave to deal with recent flooding, while others are denied such leave and being made to use annual leave. The union has reached out to both the ICE Atlanta Field Office and ICE headquarters, but all requests for information have been ignored.

“We have gotten reports that Atlanta Field Office Director Felicia Skinner has approved administrative leave for employees in Douglas County, but those in other counties are left to fend for themselves,” said Matthew Brooks, president of AFGE Local 527, which represents ICE employees in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. “AFGE is glad that Ms. Skinner is offering employees who reside in Douglas County assistance, but other counties also were declared disaster areas. There is no justification for discriminating against those employees who have had to face residential flooding, extreme hazardous road conditions, and other severe weather-related issues.”

AFGE Local 527 submitted an information request on Oct. 1 to Skinner asking for a list of employees who have requested administrative leave, a list of employees who have requested annual leave, the criteria in determining the approval or denial of leave, and which employees were granted either administrative or annual leave. That request has gone unanswered. Furthermore, Skinner told Brooks that she would not respond because union representatives are not her equal.

“We are just looking for some level of accountability here,” Brooks said.

AFGE ICE Council 118 Vice President Chris Crane followed up with an Oct. 4 letter to ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton asking for assistance in “ensuring that those employees whose lives have been devastated be treated fairly and equitably and that all employees who have a demonstrated need for the leave because of the damages to their homes and related emergency matters, be authorized administrative leave in a consistent manner.” The letter to Morton also has gone unanswered.

“We would like for Assistant Secretary Morton or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to inform Field Office Director Skinner that working with AFGE is more advantageous than working against us,” Brooks said. “The union only is looking out for the well being of its members and bargaining unit employees.”

“We asked ICE to help us identify and assist employees who were affected by these horrible floods, and ICE literally ignored us,” Crane added. “They ignored the victims and the union representatives who were trying to help them. This is the type of management culture that ICE employees deal with every day. It has to end.”

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