August 15, 2008
Christina Erling
(202) 639-6419

Union Calls for Investigation on Recent Firings of DC Inspectors

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees is calling for an investigation into the recent firings of 18 housing inspectors and the impending firings of nearly all of DC’s commercial building inspectors. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is claiming that the inspectors failed to obtain the proper certifications in order to keep their jobs.

“This is a complete sham to cover up management failures,” explained Leisha Self, AFGE legal rights attorney responsible for the 14th District. “It is no secret that DCRA is a mess. This is endemic to what we’ve seen in other DC agencies and frankly we are concerned as there is no legal reason why these inspectors should be fired. We are asking the DC City Council to look into this.”

“The commercial inspectors being placed on administrative leave all carry the proper trade-specific certifications and licenses as needed by their disciplines and as required by DC law,” stated Eric Bunn, president of AFGE Local 2725. “Once again, we are facing a situation where skilled, knowledgeable, experienced inspectors are being let go for not obtaining an unnecessary and meaningless certification to do their jobs.”

The ICC certification that is now being required by the DCRA tests inspectors on code violations that do not apply in the District of Columbia. As a result, inspectors are required to learn for this certification test code provisions and violations that have nothing to do with the performance of their duties in the District of Columbia. “To date, DC has not adopted any of these ICC regulations for commercial inspectors. There is simply no basis for requiring inspectors to learn and be tested on codes that are not in effect in DC,” explained Bunn.

“This is hurting, not helping, the District of Columbia to provide better services to residents. When these experienced inspectors are put on administrative leave, the DCRA hires contractors to conduct the inspections. The great irony is that these contractors don’t have the certifications that our inspectors do – nor do they carry the ICC certification for which our inspectors have been fired. This is a health and safety issue for the entire city,” said Bunn.

“By imposing certification standards that are not in compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, DCRA clearly does not seek to have the inspectors perform effectively. Instead, DCRA is looking for scapegoats among inspectors for Agency management’s failure to create and properly manage the inspection program for the District. We are looking at every remedial action available, including filing grievances, filing an Unfair Labor Practices Complaint and taking appropriate action in DC courts in an attempt to halt the wrongful acts of the DCRA,” concluded Self.

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