U.S. Forest Service workers picket Job Fair in Olympia

UPDATE (June 8, 2016) — NFFE distributed the following press release Tuesday:

Today, members of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), representing 110,000 federal workers nationwide, including more than 20,000 U.S.D.A. Forest Service (USFS) employees, are shining a light on the Forest Service (via informational hand-billing) for using an unfair hiring practice for which the USFS Chief Tom Tidwell was recently admonished during a Congressional hearing.

At a hiring event in Olympia, Wash. today and tomorrow, the Forest Service is hiring for jobs across the country, as far away as South Dakota and Kentucky.  The catch is, applicants must appear and submit their applications in person in Olympia, Wash.  Applicants who are unable to attend in person will not be considered for these jobs, regardless of their experience.  Among the candidates eliminated from consideration are current USFS employees—many of whom have a great deal of experience and are the most qualified to fill these vacancies—that simply do not have the means or cannot get away from their current obligations to apply for these jobs in-person.

“In April, Chief Tidwell assured Congress that applicants should be able to send applications in to be considered during job fairs, but that is not happening,” said Lisa Wolfe, NFFE Forest Service Council Vice President. “By requiring interested applicants to appear in person, the Forest Service has effectively eliminated applicants from the rest of the country. That is not fair to current employees or other applicants living in those areas. It also makes it impossible for the Forest Service to field the best pool of applicants. Anyone who cares about healthy forests or having an effective government workforce should want to see this hiring practice stopped immediately.”

The presence of NFFE at this hiring event in Olympia follows many months of effort by NFFE to convince the USFS to end its flawed hiring practice, like today’s event. The Forest Service continues to use of this competition-limiting hiring practice even after USFS Chief Tidwell testified before Congress, stating that the agency “need[s] to make sure that folks have an opportunity so that we can look at the full candidate pool.”

“We cannot stand idly by as the Forest Service continues a hiring practice that is unfair to potential applicants, is bad for the agency, and ultimately short-changes American taxpayers,” said Lisa Wolfe. “People should not be expected to travel halfway across the country to compete for a job that pays less than 14 dollars an hour. This hiring practice is ridiculous, and it needs to stop.”

OLYMPIA (June 7, 2016) — All union members and community supporters are invited to join members of National Federation of Federal Employees, IAMAW, AFL-CIO as they conduct an informational picket today (Tuesday, June 7) outside a U.S. Forest Service Job Fair in Olympia.

“We are doing informational hand-billing at this Job Fair because the U.S. Forest Service is violating our collective bargaining agreement and doing on-the-spot hiring at Job Fairs instead of giving NFFE-IAM members a fair shot to apply for those positions,” said Randy L. Erwin, NFFE National Secretary-Treasurer.

Participants will meet at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the circle at Sylvester Park, directly across from the Governor’s Hotel, 621 Capitol Way S. From noon to 1 p.m., the informational picket will be conducted outside the Governor’s Hotel.

The National Federation of Federal Employees is a national union representing approximately 110,000 blue and white collar government workers across the United States, including U.S. Forest Service employees.
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