Friday, April 07, 2006


Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about FEMA along comes this release from the American Federation of Government Employees.

FEMA Workers Union Fights to Protect Whistleblower

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has filed a Whistleblower Protection Act complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel because of threats to terminate an agency employee who recently leaked an internal agency memo to Congress. Last month AFGE Local 4060, which represents employees at FEMA headquarters, provided members of the House and Senate with an internal FEMA memo indicating racial bias in the agency's hiring and promotion practices. A senior FEMA official subsequently told AFGE that the person who leaked the memo would be fired.

"Harassment and intimidation of whistleblowers is a violation of federal
law. AFGE is a protector of those courageous government employees who step
forward to challenge wrongdoing and hold our government accountable to the
people," said AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Andrea
E. Brooks.

AFGE Local 4060 President Leo Bosner called the threats "shameful" and
"wrongheaded." Bosner long has been an advocate for decisive action to
correct problems within FEMA and reestablish deteriorated capabilities.
Following Hurricane Katrina last year, Bosner worked as a whistleblower
himself, providing the public with an invaluable perspective on what went
wrong with the preparation for and response to Katrina.

"FEMA's problems must be corrected, not covered up. FEMA needs to promote
the most capable employees to key positions and hire experienced emergency
management professionals to reduce the number of vacancies. Personnel
decisions must be based on merit, not on connections and irrelevant factors.
Didn't we learn from Katrina that competence and ability matter?" said Bosner.

Bosner says the union also will file charges with the Federal Labor
Relations Authority.

AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in
the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia. AFGE
represents the largest constituency of DHS employees, including personnel
comprising Customs & Border Protection, Border Patrol, Citizenship and
Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Law
Enforcement Training Center, FEMA, TSA and U.S. Coast Guard.

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