Sunday, June 29, 2008
The NLRBPA--the union representing HQ employees at the NLRB, which is not to be confused with the much larger NLRBU union that represents mainly regional workers --has released a press notice detailing its objections to the implementation of a new performance-appraisal program at the Board. One interesting twist is that the union is complaining about the Democratic Board member and not the Republican one.
Full disclosure: when I worked at the NLRB, I was a member of the NLRBPA (including one year as probably one of the worst stewards ever); however, I don't know anything about this current dispute and am posting on it solely as a matter of interest to readers. The NLRBPA press release states:
The National Labor Relations Board Professional Association, the union representing attorneys at the Board’s D.C. headquarters, is fighting to prevent another September Massacre. The “massacre” that the Union fears isn’t dozens of controversial decisions but a wave of unfair and discriminatory mid-year appraisals and reprisals against its members.
A new performance-appraisal program sparked this battle. Applying a “forced distribution” model like those popular with corporations like General Electric, the Board forced attorney ratings to fit a pre-established distribution. As a result, the Board’s staff attorneys were more or less equally divided into Exceptional, Commendable, and Proficient categories.
To get this predetermined distribution, Board managers unfairly tinkered with individual ratings. The resultant ratings “downgrades,” in many instances of attorneys long rated in the highest category, prompted grievances by more than one third of 45 staff attorneys.
In addition, because the NLRB’s “rank-and-yank” appraisal system had a discriminatory, adverse impact on the Board’s older female and disabled attorneys, the new system generated discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity office and a grievance of the new system’s discriminatory impact on the bargaining unit by the Union.
Board management’s response to the Union’s efforts has been anything but predictable. The NLRB’s lone Democratic member, Wilma Liebman, has not settled a single grievance and threatened reprisals against grievants and a Union officer. Meanwhile, Chairman Peter Schaumber, despite his conservative, pro-employer reputation, has cooperated with the Union to settle most of the appraisal grievances of the attorneys assigned to him.
The Union recently filed grievances against retaliatory conduct by Member Liebman and contacted Congress and the NAACP for help remedying discrimination at the Board.
Stay tuned for any future developments.