NTEU CHAPTER 280 - U.S.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
Inside The Fishbowl MAY 2002, VOL. 18, NO. 3
MAY 2002, VOL. 18, NO. 3
News From NTEU Headquarters Office
* NTEU President Submits Testimony Requesting More Staffing and Funds for FY '03 Budget
News from EPA Headquarters
* Defibrillator Training
From the Chapter President
X-BYTES - Executive Vice President Dwight Welch
* Quotes of the Month - Can They Possibly Be Serious, Honesty in Government
* Office of Special Counsel Training a Success
* Assault on Senior EPA Employees
* NTEU 280 Protests Lack of Administrator Support for Principles of Scientific Integrity
News From The NTEU National Office
National President Colleen Kelley submitted testimony to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging Congress to provide EPA with additional staffing and resources in its budget for Fiscal Year 2003. Kelley told the appropriations subcommittee of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, HUD and Independent Agencies: “ If any American didn’t appreciate the national value of our federal employees before the tragic events of September 11th, then they sure recognize their work now. Our nation depends on these patriots who work for the federal government.” Kelley noted that these patriots need to have the tools to do the job that the country depends on them to do. Proposed cuts in the workforce trouble Kelley. For example, the proposed budget would cut 146 jobs in the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, even though a similar cut proposed in the 2002 budget would have impaired the Agency’s enforcement of environmental laws. The budget request for EPA ($7.7 billion) is “misleading,” because the Office of Management and Budget would (for the first time) require agencies to pre-fund future retiree health and retirement costs from current appropriations. NTEU is also troubled by the failure to reauthorize programs requiring corporate polluters to pick up the tab for the Superfund cleanup program. If this is not done, the taxpayers will have to pay the bill, or EPA will have to cut back its activity in Superfund or other programs.
NTEU is also tracking the government’s borrowing from the G Fund of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) in light of the federal debt limit. The government has suspended investment in the G-Fund in order to avoid exceeding the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has assured the executive director of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board that G-Fund beneficiaries will be fully protected and suffer no adverse consequences, once the Secretary of the Treasury can make the G-Fund whole without exceeding the public debt limit. NTEU has requested a briefing from the administration on this matter.
EPA Headquarters News
Jim Carr (phone 202-564-8047) invites EPA Headquarters employees to sign up for training in the use of automatic external cardiac defibrillators (AEDs). Jeff Davidson of the Agency’s Safety, Health and Environmental Management Division (SHEMD) has ordered 30 AEDs that can be life-saving in the hands of trained individuals when someone suffers cardiac arrest (when the heart stops beating) or fibrillation (when the heart muscle contracts so chaotically that it does not pump blood to the brain or body).
The automatic external defibrillator is a portable device that analyzes the victim’s heart rhythms and determines if electrical stimulation is needed. Voice prompts give step-by-step instructions for administering needed shock to the chest wall to restart the heart. Time is of the essence. After five minutes, only half of those who suffer cardiac arrest survive. Good Samaritan protections and legal immunity from liability are provided in perceived medical emergencies for which the AED may be employed.
SHEMD wants to train as many Headquarters employees as possible. The training will be an 8-hour session on various dates and at various locations under the supervision of a licensed physician. It will cover five areas: (1) instruction in the use of the AED, (2) cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, (3) use of the kit for protection from bloodborne pathogens, (4) first aid, and (5) use of the emergency oxygen cannister. The call for volunteers has just gone out. Contact Program Manager Jim Carr at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (202) 564-8047. You can also sign up for the training with your AA-ship’s Program Management Officer (or the PMO’s designee). Various training dates are still available.
From The Chapter President:
On May 1, which is celebrated as Labor Day in Europe, Chapter 280 returned to its roots with an informational picket at the Reagan Building, urging the EPA Administrator to support fully the Agency’s policy on principles of scientific integrity. It seems like a ho-hum issue, like motherhood and apple pie. Who could be opposed to scientific integrity? It’s not ho-hum when a supervisor dictates to an EPA scientist or engineer to write an “analysis” and come up with the particular politically-correct conclusion that the supervisor wants. This was the issue that crystallized about 20 years ago and resulted in the creation of the EPA Headquarters professionals’ Union.
This year’s provocation was a branch chief’s telling a member of our bargaining unit that the employee’s duty was to support the manager, even if the manager said 2 + 2 = 7. It’s hard to see how this arithmetic flight of fancy would enhance environmental protection or EPA’s reputation. It’s easy to see that having a Union able to say, “Hold on there. Get real,” is good for the environment and for the dedicated people who work to protect it. What goes around comes around. As Richard Feynman said in his classic report on the space shuttle Challenger tragedy, Mother Nature can’t be fooled, and public relations or spin doctoring will take one just so far.
Chapter 280 surrounded the Reagan Building, covering the Wilson Plaza, Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street entrances. Kudos to Bill Hirzy for organizing the coverage and providing the signs and fliers. About a thousand fliers were handed (one at a time) to people working in the Federal Triangle and visitors coming to the EPA Science Forum. We acknowledge with gratitude support from AFGE Local 3331 and other allies. We could have used additional help, just as the Union can be more effective with more members. There seems to be a tendency to let somebody else do the work, when in fact we can accomplish so much more when we work together.
In solidarity – Jim Murphy
Dwight Welch, Executive
On May 15, 2002, President Bush signed the NO FEAR bill into law. This finished up a consecutive, shut-out, winning streak by EPA's own Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. The bill originally passed the House of Representatives by a 420-0 margin, 99-0 in the Senate, and then back in the House for a 412-0 finish. NO FEAR stands for Notification and Federal Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act. The bill requires notification of federal employees of their rights, paying EEO and Whistle-Blower awards out of agency budgets, rather than a general slush fund in the Department of Justice, and annual reporting by agencies of these cases.
The legislation "could not have been passed without the pain and the sheer agony of so many employees who came forward to mention that their lives were made almost in the form of a nightmare because they chose to stand up." said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) a cosponsor of the House version of the bill.
"By holding accountable those who insist upon discriminating against others, the federal government will become a role model for civil rights - and not civil violations." said House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, (R-WI) the original drafter and sponsor of the bill.
"It means now the federal government will have to obey its own laws, ......not hide behind a slush fund in the Treasury to pay for their indiscretions," said our own Marsha Coleman-Adebayo.
Time Magazine Reporter Jack White termed the NO FEAR bill "The first civil rights bill of the 21st century," and the description has stuck.
This struggle had its humble beginnings with the formation of EPA Victims Against Racial Discrimination (EPA VARD) a few years ago, by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Mr. Selwyn Cox. The brand new and outside the box organization broke all the rules as it quested for justice for the victims of discrimination and retaliation by EPA. The long road to NO FEAR included, the winning of a $600,000 judgement by Dr. Coleman-Adebayo, two rallies including a "Freedom Ride" in Freedom Park, a meeting between NAACP officials and Administrator Browner, two hearings before the House Committee on Science, the first of which left EPA Adminstrator Browner in tears, and a coalition which grew from EPA VARD to the NO FEAR Coalition which included numerous agencies and civil rights and whistle-blower organizations. The NO FEAR bill was written in response to Coleman-Adebayo v Browner after the House Science Committee hearings.
However, many critics wonder how effective the law will be. Even as the legislation passed through Congress, discrimination and retaliation at the EPA increased. Indeed, two members of the Coalition in other agencies have been notified of intention to fire. (One EEO, one Whistle-Blower) Many of the managers accused of discrimination in both Marsha's former organization (OIA) and current organization (OPPTS) have been praised and promoted by EPA Administrator Whitman. We've undergone a serious of white-washes by supposedly independent investigators (somehow employee complaints apppearing in the initial draft disappeared) and the EPA OIG (many critical witnesses were never even questioned by the OIG). Administrator Whitman has supposedly implemented a policy of Zero Tolerance for Discrimination, yet we are not aware of a single successful action under this policy. Indeed, all three complaints tendered by NTEU 280 were returned without investigation. The Labor Relations office has been waging a relentless war on the Unions and their members, dismissing grievances with disingenuous responses and allowing guilty managers to investigate themselves. The Alternative Dispute Resolution process has been throttled by the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Civil Rights seems to be conducting business as usual. Neither Administrator Whitman, nor OARM Assistant Administrator Morris Winn have met with AFGE 3331, the Union that represents the vast majority of minority employees here at EPA Headquarters. EPA VARD has been routinely snubbed by Administrator Whitman, in its several requests for meetings. The struggle had a high toll in terms of employees originally in the struggle, who have had their careers, lives, and health ruined; a toll which this Administration turns a blind eye and deaf ear to. EPA Administrator Whitman succeeded in destroying the Ombudsman function and driving out its Native American Director Robert Martin.
On the positive side the NO FEAR movement has galvanized employees, giving them hope that they can actually prevail in the face of overwhelming injustice. And in the last election of AFGE 3331 officers, EPA VARD supported candidates are now all on official time. And for the first time in our history, NTEU 280 and AFGE 3331 have an effective working partnership, exchanging information, resources, and strategies for fighting against common injustices.
We now have a law, but the law will be useless unless
employees take it upon themselves to educate themselves and become involved in
the enforcement. For instance, if an employee identifies a supervisor who has
been promoted instead of disciplined for violating the civil rights or
whistle-blower protection laws, it is important that the employee reporst these
violations to Congress if the Agency fails to identify these managers.
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
CAN THEY POSSIBLY BE SERIOUS?
Unnamed (to prevent retaliation against employee) supervisor to senior engineer:
"It’s your job to support my decisions, even if I say 2 + 2 = 7"
Christine Todd Whitman on the decision to dismiss Robert Martin (EPA Ombudsman) v. EPA:
"I am pleased with today’s
decision because it allows us to proceed with our efforts to make the Ombudsman
function more independent....By relocating the position to the Office of the
Inspector General ware are doing just that."
TRUTH IN GOVERNMENT
Robert J. Martin, from his letter of resignation: "....your (Whitman’s) communication to the Inspector General to seize my files, change my locks, and transfer me immediately to the Office of Inspector General underscores the fact that the Inspector General has no actual independence if they proceed to act at your discretion."
Representative Jerrold Nadler on the subject of transferring the Ombudsman function to the OIG: "I’ve never seen an agency where so many people are so dishonest."
Labor Relations’ Stewart Speck at a grievance filed by Ombudsman technical support person: "What is fair and unbiased? We (management) have no idea what that means."
Virginia Rosenbaum, concerned citizen, writing to Administrator Whitman concerning her failure to implement the Principles of Scientific Integrity:
"Ms. Whitman, people in exalted positions such as yours quite often forget that they are there to SERVE, not to rule, and when you refuse to impose the Principles of Scientific Integrity on EPA actions, you are not doing the job for which you have been appointed. You may get away with it for awhile, but in the end, refusing to do your job will only harm you personally and cause contempt for you position."
OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL TRAINING A SUCCESS
The OSC training given at the NETI center on March 26, 2002 was a rousing success. About two dozen AFGE/NTEU officers, members, and other employees attended. Mr. Travis Elliot, was thoroughly knowledgeable and took questions on the fly. Mr. Elliot was soon educated to the fact that EPA is ripe and rife with potential complaints regarding Prohibited Personnel Practices and Retaliation. For more information on PPPs and the OSC, go to "www.osc.gov".
I won’t bore you with all the details, but here are a few notable gems I need to share. First is that there are NO TIME LIMITS for filing. Unlike a grievance in which you have only 28 days, or other mechanisms of 3 or 6 months, there are no deadlines for filing with the OSC. Thus, more than we thought, this may be a remedial method to the likes of Labor Relations’ Mr. Speck and his "untimely, untimely, untimely." We will no longer have to waste our time on an informal process, but can use a formal process which Labor Relations cannot manipulate to their liking. A second gem is in reference to retaliation. A retaliation is not a retaliation unless it can be shown that the retaliator has knowledge of the protected disclosure such as reporting waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement to the OIG. In the real world, management often knows about the protected activity but pleads ignorance. Thus, it is in your best interest to also go public with your disclosure so as to assure your protection under the law. (See next story.)
ASSAULT ON SENIOR EPA EMPLOYEES
In the last issue I mentioned the fact that senior employees across the agency seem to be under attack, under pressure to retire, contrary to the will of Congress and others who would like to retain these experienced employees. This trend is likely government wide. Indeed, chatting with a shrink at a recent professional meeting, the good doctor informed me that his largest block of clients were depressed, middle-aged feds just counting the days until retirement.
In previous issues, I have also noted that in my
presentation before Governor for Life Whitman, in our one and only meeting with
her, that I had suggested that if she wanted to reform this Agency, she should
fire a couple of the most abusive managers. This was coupled with some
specific recommendations. I have also noted in a past issue that she has taken
the opposite strategy in promoting and praising abusive managers. Indeed, in
the latest all-employee list of the so-called management rotations, I see that
some managers, noted for their abuse of employees by both Unions, were actually
“transferred” (promoted) to higher positions than previously. I will perhaps
get to this issue in a later column, however, suffice it to say, we can expect
little reform from this Administration. Thus the burden needs to be carried by
the Unions and the employees to publicly expose waste, fraud, abuse, and
mismanagement. Thus in the spirit of “conducting our affairs as if we lived
inside a fishbowl,” I present, with employee permission, two real stories about
real abuse, suffered by our senior employees.
EDUCATING DR. JOSEPH SYLVESTER
Dr. Joseph Sylvester is a senior biologist in FEAD, OPP. Dr. Sylvester, has a PhD in Marine Biology, but lacking a sense of elitism and snobbery, he prefers to disregard the letters after his name and goes simply by "Joe." Joe is a senior, African-American employee and has extensive experience in both state and federal service. Dr. S. currently has a grievance pending alleging racism, ageism, and retaliation. These may be valid claims or, indeed, it may just be the same old story I hear from far too many of my white scientific colleagues, namely his supervisor feels intimidated by his credentials and has thus implemented the plantation attitude of keeping the brightest and best "in their place." In a sequence of events, which positively reek of retaliation, by the time Joe came to me, he has already suffered an illegal PAP and was on the verge of an illegal PIP, after a retaliatory annual evaluation which left him rated as unacceptable.
Joe made three major mistakes. The first was coming to EPA. Formerly, Dr. Sylvester was a supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a supervisor, he was, however, only a GS-13. His idea was to come to EPA, where the grades are higher, in hopes of getting a GS-14 or -15. Big Mistake! His second mistake was to ask for more work and responsibilities. His third mistake was to be openly critical about waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement; technically all against the law, but standard practice here at EPA.
Another EPA concept, Dr. Sylvester was unfamiliar with is the "A-Team/B-Team" concept. For others who may also be uneducated, let me explain. Those on the A-Team are friends and relatives of managers. They get most of the promotions, awards, travel, training, and other perks. They are tomorrow’s managers. They get most of the high profile projects. The B-Team, however, is all the rest of us. We will make it to GS-13, occasionally, almost by miracle, GS-14. We do most of the work and if we don’t make any noise about ongoing abuses, we will be allowed to rot our entire careers as GS-13s. We don’t get nearly as many awards, trips, and high visibility projects. Joe didn’t realize he was on the B-Team. FEAD is a small division which is over-graded with A-Team members with nebulous responsibilities and one seriously wonders that if the division were abolished would it even be missed by much of anyone.
Joe’s EPA education began on October 4, 2000 when he made the mistake of having a meeting with his supervisor, Arthur-Jean Williams, to ask for guidance and increased responsibilities so that he might earn a GS-14. He never received a reasonable answer to his requests and, indeed, he "got the feeling that I was unwelcome in FEAD." Despite his A-Team aspirations, but B-Team status, for Y2K Joe was given an award, however, Ms. Williams commented on the record, "I continue to remain puzzled regarding how to more effectively use your knowledge and skill within the scope and structure of the team’s function and would like your input on that issue." Again at the performance appraisal, Dr. Sylvester asked for more responsibilities but got no collaborative discussion.
While Dr. Sylvester may have been somewhat uneducated to the ways of EPA, he is by no means some rube who just fell off the hay-wagon. Joe’s next move was shrewd, indeed, an idea which from which all of us might benefit. After months of frustration in trying to get more work and responsibilities, on August 25, 2001, he contracted the services of "References, Inc." The service conducts employment interviews and did a reference investigation by interviewing Ms. Williams. Ms. Williams, rated Dr. Sylvester as good or excellent in all categories with the only "weak" point being the question of Dr. S’s qualifications as a supervisor for which Arthur Jean claimed no knowledge. This was extremely frustrating to Dr. Sylvester as he had been repeatedly been denied his requested opportunities to serve as Acting Branch Chief in Ms. Williams’ absences.
Three days later, Joe applied for flexiplace which was later denied. The rationale cited was in contradiction with the interview a few days earlier.
On September 24, 2001, four days after receiving his flexiplace disapproval, and a month after the interview, Joe was put on a Performance Assistance Plan (PAP). Problem was, not only did Ms. Williams contradict the employment interview of the previous month, but she broke nearly every provision of Article 18 of PERFORMS. Joe was not informed of the severity of this action, the plan was not developed in a cooperative manner, he was not advised of his rights to Union representation, was not given a 45 day evaluation, etc. During the course of this meeting, Ms. Williams indicated her knowledge of him looking for another job, and then blurted out, "...frankly that (expletive deleted) me off."
A few months later, on February 13, 2002 at his 2001 Performance Review, Ms. Williams produced copies of his PAP which Joe had yet to realize was a PAP. He was being rated unacceptable and informed of an upcoming Performance Improvement Program (PIP), the next step towards out the door. Dr. Sylvester’s education now nearly complete, he came to the Union. It was not until he met with the Chief Steward (Rosezella Canty-Letsome) and I, that Joe learned what a PAP actually was and the potential severe ramifications of one. He did confirm what he had intuitively suspected, he was being set up to be knocked down.
There are other aspects of a hostile work environment to Joe’s case: inferior office space, constantly being checked on by A-Team informants, denial of opportunities afforded others, discriminatory work assignments, etc. So on February 22, 2002, we filed a grievance to Ms. Williams. Shortly thereafter, as long as we were fighting abuse and mismanagement, we visited the EPA OIG hotline office to report suspected misuse of government funds by Ms. Williams. Specifically, one of her A-Team "special friends" received an IPA from Minnesota/EPA for duties which could have been performed by staff. What is most unusual about this detail, is that normally IPAs are 50/50 with half by the state and half by EPA. This was paid for 100% by EPA and is alleged to have included frequent visits to DC at first class hotels.
Is Williams guilty of the allegations? You be the judge, but here is where the plot sickens. Within a day or two of going to the IG, the shredder in the branch office was buzzing away a la Enron. We were never granted a face to face meeting and Joe’s grievance was never responded to by Ms. Williams. We escalated the grievance to Step 2, to my old friend and persecutor, division director Anne Lindsay. Suddenly and without explanation, Joe received a "Satisfactory" for FY 01, but the Union was totally by-passed in this measure. Indeed, our request to be present at his revised Performance Evaluation meeting was denied. Williams has no doubt realized the number of legal errors in her PAP administration and is regrouping for a later hit on Joe.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sylvester’s education is now complete. He realizes he is not OPP management material. He’s a nice guy and lacks the disposition towards arrogant abuse of power with a robust contempt for the law. He now has visions of senior scientist GS-14, while Ms. Williams dreams of his forced retirement.
Story Update: Since this story was written we did have a Step 2 meeting with Anne Lindsay. At the face to face meeting, a settlement was proposed. We were suggesting disciplinary/corrective training for Ms. Williams, Ms. Lindsay was suggesting discrimination, cronyism, and retaliation were merely "miscommunications" which needed to be sent to mediation. Our expressions of management accountability met with blank stares as if we were speaking in another language. The managers labeled as "untimely" all evidence greater than 28 days old. When I asked "Would you rather have had us file 10 grievances or just one showing a serious of problems?" I was again greeted with silent, blank stares. We have no word yet on the OIG investigation/cover-up.
This entire case took place AFTER OARM Assistant Administrator said he would "speak to Steve (Sharfstein)" about not having managers accused of violations of law and regulation being permitted to hear, investigate and judge complaints against themselves. With Ms. Lindsay concurring in at least one of the adverse, retaliatory actions grieved by Dr. Sylvester, Ms. Lindsay was also inappropriate for step 2.
When Joe and I went to the OIG hotline office, no one was staffing it, nor could anyone, at first seem to direct us to it. Finally, we found a couple of guys on detail from regional OIG offices who directed us to the right person who we found nearly 40 minutes after going there.
The qualifications of the chain of
command are as follows: Joe Sylvester - Ph.D., Deputy Branch Chief - M.S.,
Branch Chief - B.S., Division Director - B.A. in English. Sort of a reverse
THE VENDETTA AGAINST DR. JOHN JORDAN
Dr. John Jordan is a PhD in microbiology, and like Dr. Sylvester, just a heck of a nice guy. I’ve known John for several years now and for several years it seems that OPP management is out to get him. For several years, Rosezella and I have been taking turns trying to keep management off of John’s back, but lately the noose is being tightened.
The Labor Relations Office and John Carley, Program Director Mulkey’s hit-man have been doing their job well. Upon superficial inspection, it would seem that Dr. Jordan is a terrible employee. He has had a number of transfers and it would seem that he wasn’t working out well under anyone. But that’s only if you are superficial. The above named are doing their jobs well in setting John up, knowing that you cannot fire someone on one lame performance infraction, you have to set them up with a series of alleged problems first.
But if one takes an objective and more than a superficial look, the stink of a nefarious plot seems to emerge. First off, at least one of these transfers was the result of a reorganization where everyone got to ask for a different job if they wanted one, but John didn’t get his choice. Second, and this is really a big one, although Dr. J. is a microbiologist, they refuse to give him a microbiology assignment, instead sticking him in Environmental Fate, something in which he does not have good background in, but is trying to learn. Finally, one has to take notice of how QUICKLY these alleged supervisors find John to be unsuccessful.
Take for instance his next to last supervisor, Tom Steeger. Tom had only transferred to EPA from another agency for a few months, barely time to get his feet wet much less start going after someone. On his first day as John’s boss, he called together a work-group which John was on and told them that their work was garbage. Steeger’s complaint was largely grammatical, not scientific. FIRST DAY! Dr. J., a fair-minded individual who speaks up in the face of injustice, informed Mr. Steeger he was in error. Weeks later John was on a PIP.
Let us now consider his current supervisor Kevin Costello. We don’t like Costello. Most people, if they have a complaint with the Union, they take it up with the Union. Kevin cc:s upper management in hopes of making points for Union bashing. He’s now acting Branch Chief. Dr. Jordan has recently been out on sick leave. He fell down some stairs and hurt his back. It was a serious enough fall that John was knocked out and didn’t come to until he was riding to the hospital in an ambulance. They initially thought, from the position John was in while unconscious, that he had broken his back. John’s doctor has him on physical therapy and at home. John has complied with EPA regulations by submitting an appropriate doctor’s statement. Mr. Costello is now demanding further medical documentation. Is Mr. Costello a medical doctor? The Chief Steward is now demanding that any further medical documentation be referred to the EPA doctor and not Mr. Costello for a determination. Medical information is, after all, confidential.
But the bottom line is they want John back to resume his PIP so they can fire him or force him to retire. Back during the PIP meeting with Mr. Steeger and Mr. Carley, I just sat back and listened while John Jordan, Steward Bill Evans, and Chief Steward Rosezella Canty-Letsome did all the talking. Finally, after an hour, I asked the obvious question, "Why are you trying to fit a square peg in a round hole? Wouldn’t it be better and more productive to assign Dr. Jordan microbiology work rather than finding him unsatisfactory doing work out of his discipline?" They had no satisfactory answer. Their demeanor, body language, and frequent slips of the tongue all indicated they were not, as the PERFORMS manual suggests, trying to assist Dr. Jordan, they were working the system to get rid of him not help him.
NTEU 280 PROTESTS LACK OF ADMINISTRATOR
It started off as the straw which broke the camel's back. Having submitted a number of grievances alleging serioius violations of the Principles of Scientific Integrity, a policy developed by the National Partnership Counsel, and grudgingly put forth as policy by the last Administrator, these important matters were dismissed by Labor Relations as being not grievable, allegedly because the Principles do not appear in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Now here was something so simple, so basic, that even the non-scientists at the top could recognize as being akin to mom, apple pie, and the American flag. A supervisor recently told a senior engineer, "It's your job to support my decisions, even if I say 2 + 2 = 7."
Dr. Bill Hirzy, on behalf of NTEU 280 grieved this obvious attempt to backfill science to support policy to Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher. With no response to the grievance, it was escalated to Step 2 to Administrator Whitman. Then some 23 days after the first deadline, we received a very disingenuous and technically inaccurate response from OARM Assistant Administrator Morris Winn claiming that scientific integrity is not grievable! Mr. Winn did not grant us a face to face meeting, nor could he even pick up the phone and ask some questions.
The grievance asked as part of the relief, that Administrator Whitman reissue the Principles of Scientific Integrity and further implement a system, by which the Principles could be enforced so as to safeguard the public from voo doo science. In his response, Mr. Winn gave a nebulous promise about his reissuing the Principles at some unspecified time in the future, but with no indications, indeed, contrary indications that the Principles will be enforced. Mr. Winn suggests that the principles are merely guidance.
NTEU 280 with assistance from our partners in AFGE 3331 took to the streets to protest the lack of commitment to good science by Administrator Whitman. Staging informational picketing (see above pics) and passing out leaflets asking that people take action and write their Congressmen, Senators, and Mr.Winn. Thus far we have gotten copies of e-mails sent from all over the country and all over the world. While EPA retaliates locally, we act globally.