Business as usual at BBG, union says

Reposted from the AFGE Local 1812 website.
AFGE Local 1812
Business As Usual

For those AFGE Local 1812 Local members who had already left the Cohen Building this past Friday, or did not look at their e-mail in the late afternoon this November 2nd, we invite you to do so.

At 3:15 p.m. the Agency sent a notice to the staff concerning the results of the latest 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. As expected, they are not good. Participation was way down and skewed by the fact that an inordinate percentage of managers responded, while at the same time it was boycotted by a large number of broadcasters/producers who are tired with an exercise they view as meaningless, since little changes afterwards in the Agency.

We titled this news item “Business As Usual” because it seems to us that if the Agency was truly eager to enact changes, it would not have begun by sending its message late on a Friday, where it would be buried by the usual weekend avalanche of e-mail, with chances of staffers locating the Friday e-mail during the Monday a.m. rush rather slim. Why not wait to release it on Monday morning?

With all due respect, it makes it all harder for us to believe management’s statement that it “sees progress in some areas and some chronic issues that will take persistence and collaborative efforts to address.”

What progress?

What persistence and collaborative efforts?

Agency management seems more than willing to make minor changes and hope the survey results will improve at least a little bit. But the major issue here is a refusal to abandon a seriously flawed strategic plan. We are losing the information war. Instead of building on our strength – our radio broadcasts – Agency management is abandoning radio and trying to broadcast on as many platforms as possible while becoming master of none.

Almost every Agency in the Federal government has had to deal with belt-tightening. This Agency has had to face much less in the way of budget reductions (if any reductions at all) than others but this Agency unlike others, consistently, year after year, attempts to RIF a large portion of its employees. This has got to change. There will be no significant improvement in the survey results if the Agency does not adopt another method to deal with so called budget strains.

Agency management must obey the law. Instead of hiring more attorneys in order to find ways to avoid following the law, they need to simply follow it. Those managers who have been found to have violated the law must be asked to leave.

This Agency has also stressed employees beyond the breaking point. Employees are required to do more and more with no end in sight. The work load must be lessened. One employee cannot be expected to write news, and then produce pieces for radio, TV, and the Internet. Studio crews need time between shows to prepare the studio for the next show. Employees should not be expected to work more than eight hours in a day especially if no overtime pay is being offered.

The Voice of America must go back to its Charter. Employees want to fulfill the mission of this Agency. They do not want that mission to be changed or abandoned by top management and they do not want to produce “puff pieces” in order to please affiliates or foreign governments. There needs to be a recognition that the Voice of America is a government broadcaster with a mission that includes more than accumulating a huge audience.

Finally, the Agency needs to make a real effort to improve the quality of life for its employees. That means, among other things, expanding telework and making it easier to do so. It means being willing to change work schedules so employees can use public transportation to and from work. It means allowing employees to work flexible schedules. It means allowing employees to use their leave without having to fill out mounds of paperwork. It means treating employees like adult human beings – with respect and fairness. There has been a concerted effort over the past several years to make employees as miserable as possible so that they will elect to leave. This needs to drastically change.

Picking and choosing from this list of “must dos” is not an option. Agency management is either all in or it is all out.

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 06, 2012

One Comment

  1. Pointe Noire says:

    One tactic being used, and condoned apparently, by IBB and BBG, is the manipulation of ratings, in which rating and reviewing officers are switched to enable senior managers to retaliate against those they do not like, or who raise legitimate concerns about dysfunctional management and personnel practices. Instances of this have been seen in a number of divisions, including Central News Division.

    Is this is a productive way to handle a workforce? Most assuredly it is not, and yet this is happening in many parts of the Cohen building. Is the Partnership for Public Service, which will produce its report in December based on the latest poor results for the agency, aware of this and similar tactics? Is this condoned by Richard Lobo? By VOA Director Ensor?

    Nothing but silence from the upper floors it seems.

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