Management Groups Seek Congressional Investigation into Union “Hit List”
Two associations representing federal managers and executives have sent a letter to Capitol Hill requesting an investigation “into a troubling development at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that threatens to further destabilize labor-management relations at a department that has faced serious challenges in recent years.”
The Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Federal Managers Association (FMA) sent the letter requesting the investigation into a “hit list” on managers developed by American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 17 (VA Central Office) to the leaders of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees, as well as the oversight committees for each chamber.
SEA and FMA state in the letter that they were made aware of the union report by an article that appeared in The Washington Post on July 24, and that “the production of this management hit list raises important questions, many of which are detailed in an article that appeared in FedSmith on July 30.”
According to the Post article, nearly three dozen managers were named in the union report, each of whom were subject to at least three separate employee complaints.
The management groups question whether the union’s “internal review” was developed by union officials on official time, noting that “official time provides for federal labor organizations to conduct representational activities. However, to our knowledge, official time does not cover a union investigating agency managers and executives for the purposes of creating a hit list of those it seeks to have removed from the agency.”
The letter also raises questions about the manner in which the union performed its “internal review,” asking if the union officials had training on conducting such a review, whether sworn statements were taken and on whose authority, if managers and executives named in the review were interviewed, if employees interviewed did so on their own time or duty time, among others.
The management groups also asked what law authorizes a private sector entity, AFGE, AFL-CIO, to use government time and resources to investigate federal employees.
“Investigating federal employees, which is typically an agency function, is not an authority granted to unions by federal statue,” state SEA President Carol Bonosaro and FMA President Patricia Niehaus in the letter.
“While federal unions, including AFGE, frequently tout positive and collaborative labor-management relations as an important component of fostering an environment that lets all federal employees produce and contribute to their agency missions to the maximum extent possible (a view with which we agree), this unprecedented maneuver suggests AFGE is thinks otherwise. It certainly will not resolve workplace issues that will allow all VA employees to focus on providing the best service possible to America’s veterans,” SEA’s Bonosaro and FMA’s Niehaus conclude the letter.
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) stated that his committee would be looking into the issues raised by SEA and FMA.
“Official time should be used with great care and this letter raises even more questions about how AFGE is using taxpayer resources,” said Chairman Miller. “The VA Accountability Act of 2015 would require the GAO to conduct an independent study of VA time, space and resources devoted to labor union activities. This is yet another example of why a 3rd party investigation is needed to find the best practices and the trouble spots in VA’s current labor system.”
Posted in From the Hill