Bill would require layoff noticeThe House has passed a...

Newswatch ... on federal workers

June 26, 1991|By Stacey Evers | Stacey Evers,States News Service

Bill would require layoff notice

The House has passed a bill that would require the federal government to give its employees 60-day advance warning of layoffs.

Passing Monday by voice vote, the measure entitles federal workers to the same benefits that employees in the private sector receive.

"It is only reasonable that government employees receive thsame courtesy," says Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Pa., the bill's chief sponsor.

Under current law, federal workers must be notified 30 days iadvance that they could lose their jobs. Kanjorski has said that the additional time is especially important when large numbers of employees are let go at the same time as a result of base closings or reductions-in-force at Department of Defense installations or federal agencies.

The only exception to the proposal is that the president couldecide there is a crisis, making 60 days too much time for notice.

Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, introduced a companion bill in thSenate on June 13. It has not yet been put on a committee schedule.

Countdown to closure:

Within a week, workers at Maryland's military installations will know if their jobs are safe from the federal government's ax.

More than 3,000 employees at five military labs and one Armbase have been waiting anxiously for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission to decide which sites to strike from its list of 60 bases.

The federal panel, charged with making its recommendations tPresident Bush by Monday, will deliberate tomorrow and Friday and vote on Sunday on which U.S. military bases to close and consolidate.

The Naval Electronics System Engineering Activity in St. InigoesSt. Mary's County, is the only Maryland facility targeted by the Pentagon for closure. NESEA employs 1,055 workers.

The five Maryland facilities being reviewed for realignment arthe Naval Surface Warfare Center Detachment in White Oak, the Navy's David Taylor Research Center Detachment in Annapolis, the Naval Ordnance Station in Indian Head, the Army's Fort Detrick in Frederick and the Army's Harry Diamond Laboratories in Adelphi.

Bush has 15 days to accept or reject the commission'recommendations without making any changes. If he rejects the suggestions, the panel has 30 days to re-evaluate the list.

If the president accepts the commission's list, it will bforwarded to Congress for approval.

The legislature has 45 days to accept or reject it, but can make no changes. If Congress rejects the list, no closures will be made until a new commission takes a fresh look at the nation's military bases in 1993.

Union squabbling:

In an unusual move, the American Federation of Government Employees has delivered some cutting blows to the National Treasury Employees Union for a discrimination survey conducted NTEU and the Internal Revenue Service.

NTEU and the IRS announced June 13 that black employeereceive a significantly disproportionate number of disciplinary actions taken against IRS workers.

"At this point, any union worth its salt would be beyond studyindiscrimination and instead be taking positive action to eliminate injustice from the workplace," says AFGE President John N. Sturdivant. "The discrimination against minorities and women in the federal workplace has been a critical issue for many, many years. I cannot believe that NTEU is just now getting around to studying the issue."

AFGE spokeswoman Diane S. Witiak agrees that Sturdivant'outspokenness is unusual, but says he "got very upset. He was irritated that NTEU would study discrimination and announce the results. We realize you don't need a survey to realize there is discrimination in every agency."

A news release issued by AFGE blasting NTEU under thheadline "AFGE Takes Action Against Discrimination; NTEU Studies It," also touts AFGE's Fair Practices Department, established in 1968 to work exclusively on the issue of discrimination in the federal workplace.

NTEU officials, who said they had not heard AFGE's criticismtook the news rather lightheartedly.

Asked if the two organizations have a contentious rivalry, NTEspokeswoman Susan Holliday refers to NTEU's history of action against discrimination and points out that NTEU is in the middle of campaigning for an election in the Social Security Administration's bargaining unit -- currently AFGE's domain.

"You can decide if there's a rivalry," Holliday says.

The IRS-NTEU survey found that black employees made up 2percent of the 125,600 IRS employees in 1989, but received more than 50 percent of the 1,982 disciplinary actions taken against workers. In general, the disparity held true nationwide and in all IRS occupations and function areas.

The IRS and NTEU have asked IRS executives and union officialto comment on the report and make recommendations for improvement by mid-July. Organization officials have said they will comment further at that time on specific steps to be taken to remedy the situation.

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