UPDATE (Oct. 1) — AFGE reports that, just hours before the Sept. 29 picket, a manager that was the source of many of the Job Corps employees grievances was re-assigned to another state. Also, in the days leading up to the picket, the agency did back fill some critical positions. The employees are very pleased with these developments and thank all who participated in the picket.
Following is a news release from the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3284:
MOSES LAKE — Shortly after being certified as a union local with American Federation of Government Employees, 22 new members will be holding an informational picket near the Columbia Basin Job Corps Center this Saturday, Sept. 29. They will protest: (1) alleged discriminatory behavior of management at the center, (2) poor working conditions, (3) mismanagement, (4) retaliatory actions, and (5) stagnation of employees. Employees will be joined by members of other unions, as well as AFGE officials including National Vice President Gerry Swanke and National Fair Practices Affirmative Action Coordinator Ivan Weich.
This picket was prompted by a series of complaints where local management officials are alleged to have committed: unlawful discrimination, retaliation, stagnation of employees at low grades, coercion, and prohibited personnel practices. The picket will be Saturday at 9 a.m. at the park-and-ride lot on State Highway 17 at Randolph Road NE, just minutes away from the Columbia Basin Job Corps facility, and will last about two hours.
“Since the first full week of January 2012, I received at least 2-3 emails per week from employees at Columbia Basin complaining of questionable management conduct, discrimination, and retaliation,” Weich said. “One employee has filed an EEO complaint while another has filed 3 EEO complaints and Job Corps is trying to fire this employee. The firing appears to be retaliation for filing the complaints. Both of these employees have helped to organize the unit.”
The Federal Labor Relations Authority certified the Job Corps employees’ union election on Aug. 21. They are now part of AFGE Local 3284 out of Ogden, Utah.
Job Corps is an educational and career technical training program for young Americans, and is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They work with “at risk” youth ages 16 to 24 to prepare them for the workforce. Job Corps consists of residential, academic and vocational programs to develop job readiness skills so students can enter the workforce.
In addition to calling attention to the management conduct, the stagnation of workers and the mismanagement of the facility, the employees want to show solidarity to all federal employees and organized workers.
“Solidarity is the main reason behind this picket. We need to show everyone that we are banded together as a union and we support all of our past and current employees, as well as all employees in organized labor,” Weich said.
AFGE represents more than 600,000 federal employees across the nation. For more information, visit www.afge.org.