October 22, 2003
Enid Doggett
Adele Stan
(202) 639-6419
Sheila McCormick
(202) 572-5537

Union Leaders Emerge Hopeful From DHS Meetings; Urge Secretary Ridge To Keep Promise To Unions

WASHINGTON, D.C.—At the conclusion of public discussions regarding a possible new personnel system for employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the leaders of the two largest federal employee unions said that the three-day meeting provided a good forum for the public presentation of the views of the front-line employees of DHS.

Colleen M. Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), and John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), agreed that, as a result of these discussions, many members of the DHS Senior Review Committee (SRC) appeared to be thinking differently about employee concerns than they did at the outset of the meeting, which took place at the Almas Temple in Washington, D.C. The SRC, of which Gage and Kelley are members, is charged with exploring personnel options for the new agency.

“I was pleased with the opportunity to discuss these options with DHS operational managers,” Kelley said. “They appeared to be listening and to appreciate our interest in solving problems while protecting employee rights; however, the process has not yet ended.”

“While we feel we’ve been heard,” Gage added, “the rubber will meet the road when Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Kay Coles James, director of the Office of Personnel Management, arrive at their final decisions. Let’s hope that Secretary Ridge holds to his promise of union representation for the dedicated employees of the Department of Homeland Security.”

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