Press Release 6/23/08 For Information: Charles Paidock, VP, GSA National Counci (312) 353-0830 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacting Congress About Mistreatment
Employees of the General Services Administration (GSA) were notified by agency managers in Atlanta, GA, that they had committed a “direct violation” of the Hatch Act, prohibiting partisan political activities, by having a conference call with Congressman John Lewis (D, 5th) to voice complaints about working conditions and disparate treatment.
The Union representing employees, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), had made arrangements for a conference call in conjunction with their annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., taking place this week. The call was intended to enable employees in the Atlanta federal building to communicate with their representative on conditions of employment.
The Union was informed that when management became aware of the call, they hurried to the conference room in order to stop employees from discussing anything with the congressman.
A Union representative, even though he was unable to participate, was notified that he and the other officers, and union members who attended, were reported to the Office of General Counsel for an investigation, and possible disciplinary actions to be taken.
The Union is new to this region of the agency, the election in favor of the Union having taken place only in May of last year, after stringent opposition to organizing efforts succeeded. The Union maintains that the agency is still bitter about having to recognize the Union in GSA in this part of the south.
President John M. Hanley, of the nationwide NFFE / GSA Council of Locals, stated that: “We discussed mistreatment of employees, and how to arrive at improvements in the conditions of employment. We are authorized official time to do so, and may use any available telephone conferencing capability. This is clearly allowable by case law, and the contract. It is clear that the managers at GSA don’t want us reporting them to Congress. They weren’t even there to determine what was discussed, and with whom, yet charges have been threatened.”
Mr. Hanley added: “Congressman John Lewis a widely respected leader and the Union was honored to have time with him. It is sad that GSA seeks to intimidate and coerce employees from taking advantage of this rare opportunity to meet this great man, albeit by phone.”