Federal Management Groups Press VA Secretary for Answers
The Senior Executives Association (SEA) and Federal Managers Association (FMA) issued a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Bob McDonald, detailing the growing concern on the status of labor-management relations at the VA.
The letter cites a Washington Post article from July, which highlighted how the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Local 17, was allegedly personally asked by the Secretary for a report on federal managers and supervisors whom the union viewed as barriers to the success of the Department.
"We've been contacted by a number of managers, both listed and those not listed," said Patricia Niehaus, President of FMA. "They all attested that complaints had been filed, but they were found to be unsubstantiated. By singling out these managers and executives who have been found of no wrongdoing, AFGE Local 17 is creating a work environment that does nothing to promote the missions and goals of the VA."
SEA and FMA have previously reached out to leadership within the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - requesting that the committees further investigate how this internal review was conducted by AFGE, Local 17, particularly seeking answers on whether or not it was completed on official time.
"Secretary McDonald has yet to confirm whether or not he specifically asked for this report, or even if he has received it," said Tim Dirks, Interim President of SEA. "We're seeking clarity at SEA and FMA, and if the Secretary does read the report, we are kindly reminding him that the union's report only presents one side of the story and their list of grievances should be taken with a grain of salt."
In the letter, SEA and FMA also requested that the Secretary should first examine the personnel records of the managers and supervisors listed before any actions are contemplated, including closely and fairly examining any charges filed against them to determine whether any evidence exists to support the union's claims.