President Obama announced recently the recess appointment of Jacqueline Berrien to Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The beleaguered civil rights agency has suffered from frozen budgets, a 25% reduction in workforce, and mounting case backlogs. According to Gabrielle Martin, president of the National Council of EEOC Locals, AFGE/AFL-CIO, and the union representing EEOC employees, “EEOC’s new leader has her work cut out for her trying to revitalize this decimated agency so it can help Americans get and keep jobs."
Here is the list of the Union’s top ten challenges facing the new EEOC Chair:
Budget: The new Chair must be an outspoken advocate for fully funding EEOC. Her first priority must be to secure the FY11 budget request to increase EEOC's funding to $385 million.
Backlog/Staffing: The new Chair must restore frontline staffing to 3,000 employees to reduce the anticipated FY10 backlog of almost 100,000 cases, causing the public to wait 9 months for help.
Overtime: The new Chair must pay damages to resolve willful overtime violations committed nationwide by the EEOC, according to a Federal arbitrator.
Model Employer: Rather than the Agency being referred to as a laughingstock, the new Chair should make EEOC the model employer by repairing relations with the Union, improving morale, and implementing partnership.
Overhaul Intake: The new Chair should implement the Union's Full Service Intake Plan, submitted 6 months ago, to provide real help to the public and address 5,000 unanswered e-mails.
Attract and Retain Talent: The new Chair needs to ensure that EEOC is competitive with other agencies by making career grades commensurate with increasing complexity of the law and duties.
Training: EEOC employees need comprehensive annual training on EEOC’s new laws, internal training to create a model workplace, and funding to back-up individual development plan requests.
Federal EEO: The new Chair should get stakeholder input before allowing Federal worker cases to be fast-tracked, which removes judicial independence and threatens rights to fair hearings.
Reign in Micromanagement: The new Chair should reduce supervisor/employee ratio to 1:10.
Fix Restructuring: The 2006 EEOC field restructuring split states (e.g., Ohio) between agency Districts and downgraded offices in cities with high minority population (e.g., Baltimore, Detroit, Seattle, and Cleveland). The new Chair should implement her vision for providing full service offices to match growing populations and geographic areas that most rely on EEOC's services.