BBG executives unnerved by Ashe's interest in employee morale


According to BBG Watch sources, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) executives, including International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) senior staffers, were surprised by BBG member Victor Ashe’s public raising of the issue of employee concerns at the October 13 BBG meeting. Sources tell us they were even more surprised to receive a request from Ashe for a written report and a formal response on how they plan to address these concerns.
It is highly unusual for a BBG member to speak in public about his or her displeasure with the way the senior management runs the organization. The BBG executives, who manage U.S. international broadcasting entities on behalf of the Board members, have been blamed for a number of blunders and criticized in Congress for their programming policy proposals and lack of transparency, but relatively little attention has been paid to the low employee morale, especially at the Voice of America (VOA).
BBG, IBB, and VOA senior managers have put in place over the years a program of hiring private contractors to do the regular full time work of Voice of America journalists and broadcasters while denying them basic benefits available to staff government employees — such as regular pay raises, annual and sick leave, health and life insurance, retirement, and protection against unfair treatment. BBG executives have also denied legal protections against unfair dismissal to a large number of foreign-born journalists employed in the Czech Republic by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
According to our sources, in a request for a written report on the situation addressed to the IBB Director Richard Lobo, Ashe repeated his public statement that contract employees, who represent 45 percent of all Voice of America employees, are extremely unhappy by the way they are treated by the organization. He also pointed out that they are not allowed to participate in the employee satisfaction surveys, which — even without their participation — place the agency’s management at the very bottom of all Federal government entities. Ashe was also concerned that contract employees cannot receive free flu shots, which are made available to staff employees, thus creating a workplace health safety issue.
According to our sources, Ashe has asked IBB management to provide a response to these employee concerns at the next meeting of BBG members, which is scheduled for mid-November.