TCDay care at Social SecurityOn-site day care, once deemed...

Newswatch ... on federal workers

January 16, 1991|By Mick Rood | Mick Rood,States News Service

TC

Day care at Social Security

On-site day care, once deemed an unnecessary service by the Social Security Administration, is coming soon to the agency's Metro West building in Baltimore and the headquarters in Woodlawn.

A facility for 93 children is to open March 18 at Metro West; a facility for 108 children is to open sometime in July or August at headquarters.

With the advantage of free space supplied by the federal agency, both day-care centers are expected to be self-supporting and available at competitive prices that have not yet been set, an agency spokesman said this week. The centers will be operated by a parents' committee that has been calling the shots since planning began last year.

Commissioner Gwendolyn S. King's predecessor, Dorcas Hardy, stopped the day-care idea cold during her tenure. Hardy relied on reports suggesting there was little interest in it because, among other things, the women at SSA were largely past child-bearing years.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., kept putting language in legislation to force Hardy to study day-care needs, but Hardy successfully resisted the concept. Shortly after King replaced Hardy, Mikulski asked King to look at the day-care idea again in the fall of 1989. In a survey, King found 1,600 employees expressing "very strong interest" in on-site day care.

The process has been rolling ever since with the cooperation of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents SSA employees.

The two centers may not meet the immediate need, but King says she just wants to get them up and operating.

"I'm grateful to Senator Mikulski, who recognized, as I did, the need for this," King says.

Boycott urged:

The National Treasury Employees Union came across the proverbial key document the other day and, as a result, it is urging a boycott of the private consulting firm, Federal Personnel Management Institute.

In a report to the U.S. Customs Service, which has employees represented by NTEU, the union is claiming that the institute used "union-busting tactics during [recent] contract negotiations, sabotaging the bargaining process and probably costing a half million of taxpayers' dollars."

NTEU President Robert M. Tobias said, "FPMI performed shamelessly. It produced a thick report advising Customs to stonewall and argue that virtually every union proposal was non-negotiable."

Ralph Smith, who is vice president of the 3-year-old firm that advises federal agencies on personnel matters, had a different view.

"It's unfortunate that they've taken this approach. Apparently, they are not happy with the agreement," Smith said.

The FPMI report to customs "is no more union busting than they [NTEU] are busting agencies," Smith said.

Ironically, Smith, who helps put out a newsletter published by a separate company with FPMI employees in common, had recently written a complimentary profile of Tobias.

Now Tobias is urging other unions to join NTEU in not "patronizing or cooperating" with two FPMI-related companies, Federal Law Institute, which does seminars on labor-management issues, and FPMI Communications, which publishes the monthly newsletter.

Well-treated:

A federal study on the Department of Health and Human Service's treatment of Hispanic employees in a six-state Western region has concluded that that minority was generally treated well during the 1980s.

The General Accounting Office found that by late 1989, the HHS labor force in those states was 10.3 Hispanic, vs. a 5.5 percent rate in the civilian labor force. The latter number is a little shaky since it is based on 1980 Census Bureau numbers.

The GAO looked into the topic based on a request from Democratic Sen. Timothy Wirth, whose home state of Colorado was one of the six states. Others were Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, all federal agencies are required to practice the "A" words -- affirmative action. Obviously, the practice has not been enthusiastically followed in the Reagan and Bush administrations, which have regarded the concept as reverse racism, despite the noble goal of overcoming "the lingering effects of historical discrimination," as GAO put it.

GAO analyzed 2,800 white-collar jobs in the region and had these other observations:

* One hole in the department's performance was the lack of any Hispanic women serving in the high levels of GS-13 to GS-15.

* HHS generally followed federal guidelines in handling discrimination complaints, although in several cases it took three years to resolve them.

* The number of employee awards given Hispanics (9 percent) roughly tracked their percentage of the work force, but adverse personnel actions against Hispanic employees were somewhat

higher (17.5 percent).

Wirth also asked what percentage of HHS political appointees in the region were Hispanic and the answer came back "none." However, there is only one political appointee to count -- the regional director.

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