Broadcasting Board of Governors’ employee union appeals to Senator McConnell to retain Ashe on BBG board

AFGE Local 1812 The union representing Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) employees has written a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, requesting that BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe retain his seat on the BBG board in charge of U.S. international broadcasting.

In an earlier article posted on its website, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812, criticized the management of the agency.

Rank and file employees and their union see Ashe as their strong defender against the agency’s bureaucracy centered at the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) rated in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) employee viewpoint surveys as being the worst managers in the federal government. The same surveys rate the agency as having the lowest employee morale.

Has there really been any significant change at the Agency that would result in improved morale? And why would the White House wish to remove the member of the Board who is the most vocal supporter of improving morale?

These questions were addressed in an article posted by the union representing Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) employees, American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812.

“No, nothing of any real significance has changed in the way IBB management bullies its way around to pursue its goals: replacing U.S. citizen employees with interchangeable and pliable foreign and domestic contractors with no benefits, and no rights to pursue such benefits, to create a semi-private entity that they can rule as a fiefdom, even as it fails to fulfill its Congressionally-mandated mission of presenting the story of the United States and its values to the world.”

“AFGE Local 1812 strongly opposes replacing Governor Ashe. Ambassador Ashe has our full support.

Why? Because Governor Ashe has had the rare courage and gumption to raise issues the Agency is supposed to promote in its global broadcasts, ideals such as more open government, human rights, workers’ rights and good governance. According to the annual OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, Agency managers have failed these ideals abysmally — year after year after year after year.

We are still hopeful that things will change and that it will not be — business as usual.”

READ MORE: REAL CHANGES OR BUSINESS AS USUAL?, AFGE Local 1812, May 15, 2013.

AFGE Local 1812 Letter to Senator Mitch McConnell

May 15, 2013

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator McConnell:

On behalf of the members of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812, which represents the broadcasters and journalists at the Voice of America, our broadcasting voice to the world, and Radio/TV Marti, the voice of freedom to Cuba, we are writing to you with an urgent request to retain Governor Victor Ashe’s membership on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

Last week, we learned that President Obama will submit Ambassador Ryan Crocker for nomination to serve as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). A distinguished and seasoned diplomat, Ambassador Crocker is a wise choice who will bring his valuable knowledge of foreign policy, global affairs, communications and public diplomacy to the Board. That appointment, as well as a previous one of Matt Armstrong, will broaden the perspective of the BBG board members beyond domestic broadcasting issues and heighten the importance of how the Agency can more clearly enunciate America’s goals to a global audience.

However, we have learned that Ambassador Crocker was appointed to replace the remaining Republican appointee on the Board, Victor Ashe. The former mayor of Knoxville and U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Governor Ashe has been a sterling member of the BBG. Terminating Victor Ashe’s appointment would be a real loss for the Agency’s mission and moreover, for the employees in this Agency, the majority of whom respect and admire Governor Ashe for his determination to resolve long-term problems, to improve morale, to obtain necessary resources as well as his insistence on transparency and open governance. Governor Ashe has been a beacon of hope for the employees of the Voice of America and Radio/TV Marti and if he goes, whatever improvements in morale that have occurred in the Agency are almost sure to vanish as well.

Although we do not represent the employees at RFE/RL, we note that Governor Ashe has been a champion of human rights and workplace fairness for the employees in Prague and Moscow including spearheading the efforts to resolve the monumental problems at Radio Liberty Russian which unceremoniously fired its employees last year.

The resulting firestorm delivered a devastating blow to U.S. broadcasting efforts to Russia as well as compromising the prestige and honor of the United States. Without Governor Ashe’s efforts together with Democrats, Susan McCue and Michael Meehan in focusing on the resolution of the Radio Liberty issue, the U.S. would have compromised its national interests and become an object of ridicule in international broadcasting circles. That is another positive attribute of Governor Ashe: as the lone Republican appointee on the BBG with three Republican vacancies: he has worked professionally, cordially and tirelessly with the Democratic members of the Board in trying to resolve the monumental problems he found in U.S. international broadcasting.

In conclusion, AFGE Local 1812 would like to state for the record that Ambassador Ashe has been of great and vital service in his appointment to the BBG and he should be allowed to continue. With his dedication to public service and good government, he has made a great impact in our Agency. He has our complete support.
Replacing Ambassador Ashe is not in the national and public interest. It is not in the interest of good governance and public administration in the Federal Service.

Ambassadors Crocker and Ashe are both needed at the Broadcasting Board of Governors to finish the reforms of the IBB bureaucracy at the Agency and to strengthen America’s voice abroad.
Ambassador Ashe has been a beacon of hope for those employees in our Agency who had lost all hope for change.
We are available to speak with your staff on this most important and pressing matter and share our concerns and other materials. I will be contacting you for an appointment or you may call me at: (202) 382-7616.
Thank you for your consideration,

Tim Shamble / President
AFGE Local 1812

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