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Union busting at NIEHS?

Union organizers at a federal science agency have failed in their efforts to unionize researchers and technicians there, prompting allegations of suppression and union busting. In a mid-May ballot, scientists and technicians at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, voted against establishing a union. According to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), there were 70 votes against forming the union and 43 for it. The numb

By | July 1, 2009

Union organizers at a federal science agency have failed in their efforts to unionize researchers and technicians there, prompting allegations of suppression and union busting. In a mid-May ballot, scientists and technicians at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, voted against establishing a union. According to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), there were 70 votes against forming the union and 43 for it. The number of voters, said Gerald Cole, regional director for the FLRA's San Francisco office, was far less than the 216 NIEHS "professionals" -- defined as workers with advanced degrees who are not direct supervisors -- who were eligible to vote. "I'm not sure I can explain why 100 people who were eligible to vote decided not to vote one way or the other," Cole told __The Scientist__.
NIEHS headquarters in North Carolina
Image: NIEHS
Bill Jirles, program analyst in the NIEHS's office of policy, told __The Scientist__ that management at the agency may have succeeding in dissuading professionals from participating in the union vote. "[NIEHS managers] were trying to, in my view, suppress the organization of professionals here," said Jirles, who is also the president of the Local 2923 American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union, which represents non-professionals at the NIEHS. "I get the impression that [management] would not want to have to deal with the [professionals] union." "This is a total triumph for management," said linkurl:James Huff,;http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/od/orar/huff.cfm an NIEHS pharmacologist who supported the establishment of a professional's union. He speculated there might be a feeling among professionals that they were too "elite" for union representation. "It's a typical upper-level attitude." In the lead-up to the union vote, misinformation and confusion seemed to reign at the agency. While Jirles and Huff said that they tried to get the word out, other NIEHS professionals claim that they weren't aware of the vote until the day before. "None of the scientists knew about it," said Pat Chulada, a clinical researcher and health science administrator at NIEHS. Chulada, who voted against forming the union, told __The Scientist__ that she works in a separate facility from the NIEHS's main building and saw no notices of the vote, but learned after the election that a hard-to-see poster board was located in a corner of her building's lobby. "I think it was that the people who wanted the union were just telling people that they knew also wanted the union so only those people would show up to vote." Jirles said that he held lunch-time information sessions and sent emails with union information to NIEHS professionals earlier this year, but on February 13th the NIEHS office of labor relations sent him an email forbidding him from "any further use of government e-mails for this internal union business." Jirles replied to NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum and NIEHS employee and labor relations specialist Karen Hunter the same day protesting the action. "It is clear that the agency harbors a great deal of animus and this is another piece of evidence as [to] how the agency treats the union disparately," Jirles wrote in that email. On February 24, Jirles filed a formal complaint with the FLRA on behalf of AFGE Local 2923. The document, a copy of which was obtained by __The Scientist__, stated that Hunter -- under the guise of "NIEHS Labor Relations" -- had instructed Jirles to stop sending emails regarding union information sessions and, with NIEHS management, was "interfering with the Union's right to organize employees." "Hunter's emails are illustrative or indicative of management's actions to disrupt and/or suppress employee and Union rights," Jirles charged. According to Cole, the charge is still under investigation. Still, Jirles managed to get the signatures of more than 30% of professionals at NIEHS on a petition that the FLRA requires before union votes are allowed to be held. The FLRA verified that petition, and the vote was set for May 14th. Jirles said that he tried to inform NIEHS scientists about the union and the vote prior to May 14th. In the beginning of May, he invited Environmental Protection Agency scientists Michael Madden and Rachel Grindstaff, who are part of the professionals union at that agency, to NIEHS to talk with professionals. The two covered what benefits might come with union representation, the differences between entering arbitration and consulting a private lawyer, union retirement benefits, and other issues, Grindstaff told __The Scientist__. Grindstaff also said that she discussed the difference between a "closed shop" union arrangement, where employees represented by a union are required to pay dues, and unions in right-to-work states, where employees have the option of paying dues and attaining full union membership. "There was some confusion as to what a right-to-work state was," she recalled. The professionals union at NIEHS would have had the option to pay dues or not as North Carolina is a right-to-work state, but Jirles says that some employees mistakenly thought they would have to pay dues if the union vote passed. Chulada, who did not attend these information sessions, said that she was turned off by "the way the election was held." Chulada claimed that though the vote was supposed to be anonymous, "They put my ballot in an envelope marked with my name. For me, it wasn't anonymous at all." Chulada also said that she was given a pencil with which to vote. "You couldn't even write [your vote] in permanent ink," she said. "A lot of people felt the election was underhanded." Birnbaum told __The Scientist__ that management at the agency did nothing to influence the outcome of the vote, and that Jirles's claims of suppression are unfounded. "I don't think that was true at all," she said. "I did not see anything. I would not have ever done anything to stymie any kind of union vote. There was a free and fair election that was held, and the results have been verified." Both Cole and Karen Hunter noted that management or labor could have filed an official complaint up to five days after the vote if they felt that irregularities had marred its outcome. "If there were any allegations of wrongdoing on our behalf, both parties could have filed a protest," Hunter said. "Neither party did that." Cole confirmed that no such protest was filed with his office. Jirles said that he will regroup and plan on holding another vote after the year-long waiting period mandated by federal law. "I think the next step is determining, with these professionals who were most interested, whether or not they want to give it another try."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Problems linger at NIEHS;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54554/
[16th April 2008]*linkurl:New NIEHS leader looks ahead;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55271/
[9th December 2008]*linkurl:Ex-NIEHS director speaks out;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54298/
[11th February 2008]
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

July 1, 2009

Government benefits are pretty decent. Maybe they just do not want a union. After all, look how well the unions helped out the car industry!\n\nLMK
Avatar of: Molly Cook

Molly Cook

Posts: 5

July 1, 2009

To imply that management interfered with the Union vote at NIEHS is just another example as to the extent those like Bill Jirles and James Huff will reach to achieve their goal. Management did not influence the vote nor the outcome. \n\nChulada comment's, "I think it was that the people who wanted the union were just telling people that they knew also wanted the union so only those people would show up to vote." sums up the attitude of many eligible voters at NIEHS. For example, those who indicated ?no? interest in forming a Union at NIEHS were removed from e-mail lists. Only those expressing interest continued to receive information. Therefore, those who intended to vote ?no? were not apprised of important information regarding the vote or the Union in general (see example below sent May 05, 2009).\n\n________________________________________________\nSent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 12:17 PM\nSubject: May 5 information session, 12-1pm, 101C\n \n\nYou indicated you were interested in a union here at NIEHS. There will soon be a vote among professionals to determine whether or not professionals will belong to a union (likely mid-May)."\n_________________________________________________ \n\n\nOne explanation that would address Mr. Cole's question below other than lack of available information concerning the vote is that no one was allowed to vote by proxy. I personally was on leave at the time of the vote and although eligible could not vote due to my absence from the institute. \n\n?The number of voters, said Gerald Cole, regional director for the FLRA's San Francisco office, was far less than the 216 NIEHS "professionals" -- defined as workers with advanced degrees who are not direct supervisors -- who were eligible to vote. "I'm not sure I can explain why 100 people who were eligible to vote decided not to vote one way or the other," Cole told The Scientist.?\n\n\n\nThe numbers speak for themselves making it clear that it has been ?determined? that another try is not warranted.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

July 1, 2009

I was shocked and angered while reading the article "Union Busting at NIEHS", suggesting that management might have interfered with the success of forming a professional union at the NIEHS. As a member of the targeted scientific staff at NIEHS I have a very different point of view of the effort to form a union than the one presented by Bill Jirles. The list of inconsistencies is quite long, but I will try to point out key problems with the way the union tried to establish itself at NIEHS.\nThe article states: "Jirles said that he tried to inform NIEHS scientists about the union and the vote prior to May 14th." I remember those emails as meetings intended to judge the level of interests in a union. Not having any interest in unions I declined to attend. I only found out much later, that those scientists that attended the meetings AND asked for more information were placed on a mail list, and kept informed of union organizing progress, while those eligible voters that did not express support of the union were not included and any subsequent emailings.\nThe article states that Gerald Cole, regional director for the FLRA's San Francisco office can't "...explain why 100 people who were eligible to vote decided not to vote...". I have a very good explanation for Mr. Cole. I found out about the impending May 14th vote late on Friday May 8th, in a side note in an email from a third party organization, the AoLS, at NIEHS. This was not even a week before the scheduled vote. Everyone I talked with, and I mean EVERYONE, either had not heard about ANY union vote or had found out about the vote from the same source. As you can imagine there was a flurry of emails from eligible voters to Bill Jirles asking for information or the the possibility of additional voting times. Evidently, the vote could not be changed, there were only a few hours on that day that ballots would be accepted, and if you were not present there was no option for absentee ballots.\nBill Jirles informed the scientific staff at NIEHS that there would be information about the union posted by morning on Monday May 11 at the entrances and exits of the building. After no information was posted by mid-morning that Monday, I wrote to Mr. Jirles informing him that there was no posting at the entrance to the building. Shortly after, I received a reply from him letting me know that the information was posted "now". I checked again, but found nothing posted. I sent another email, but the only reply I received was from Mr. Jirles stating "Folks, The emails are getting a little out of control. This will be my final email on the subject." I am sure that Mr. Jiles was overwhelmed with emails asking for information or commenting on the lack of warning regarding the vote, but to tell everyone that you are not going to respond to any additional questions?\nThat is my view point, from the level of technician scientific staff, on the union organizing efforts at the NIEHS. Never did I feel any type of influence, for or against the union, from any one in management. For the union organizers to suggest that possibility is absolutely wrong. I did get a strong feeling that the union organizers were trying to keep the union supporters informed about the vote, while keeping those that did not have the same opinion in the dark, there by shifting the number of "FOR" votes to the majority. Luckily, enough people had a contrary opinion to postpone the formation of the union at NIEHS. I, for one, would not want to be represented by an organization that presented itself like the AFGE has. I have chosen to remain anonymous because I don't know if I can trust the organizers of the union, and what influence they may obtain in the future.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 10

July 2, 2009

I agree that most people would not want a union. We have some unionized staff where I work and the union managers tell there incoming staff not to work so hard because it won't help them get ahead. It's frustrating for us non-union workers to see union workers lose all of their job motivation and even worse when you consider how much grant money this wastes. You seem to lose all of the best things about the free market when you have a union, and with benefits being guaranteed at just about every university in the world, the need for unions is declining fast. Perhaps these individuals should consider being part of an "association". That way they get to work together, without the negative trappings of a true union.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 35

July 2, 2009

I think that most scientists believe strongly in what they do and perceive the institution at which they work as an ally run by their compatriots. When a university or a government institute is not making a profit, it is hard to view it as an oppressive management to be countered with picket lines. \n\nTrue, that logic should apply to teachers as well, but doesn't - but perhaps that is because teachers are under the thumb of crooked school boards falling somewhat short of Mark Twain's commendation and crazy administrators who would exile them to a "rubber room" for allowing a kid to sing in class. \n\nI think that in many cases academic employees could gain a wage increase simply by joining together and asking for one, and when that isn't true, there probably isn't any more money available no matter how powerful the union. Unions have a good purpose, but they will need to make fundamental conceptual advances if they are to become relevant in academia.\n\n
Avatar of: bill jirles

bill jirles

Posts: 3

July 9, 2009

As the NIEHS Union Representative for over six years I believe there have been union-busting efforts at NIEHS. This hasn?t been completely the work of upper-level NIEHS managers. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Bush Administration was hostile to unions and cared little for employee rights. Similarly, that attitude was embraced and endorsed by Bush appointees and trickled down to NIH/NIEHS management personnel. We now have both a new Administration headed by Barak Obama and a new NIEHS Director, Linda Birnbaum. I don?t recall anything that Dr. Birnbaum has done thus far that I would call union-friendly or pushing initiatives that focus on improved workplace conditions for all employees. That may be because many employee and labor issues are handled at the NIH level by, what I consider, unkind and intolerant labor-relations personnel. I have found that a number of NIH/NIEHS managers believe unions are bearable as long as they ?stay in their place.? Such attitudes are similar to those during the women?s suffrage and the civil rights movements. During this organizing process management did engage in what I consider unfair labor practices that suppressed the Union?s rights and outreach. Furthermore, after the vote was over a number of employees contacted me telling me that their supervisors had strongly indicated that if the vote was in the Union?s favor then they would not receive a promotion. \n \nOrganizing the professionals at NIEHS was a year-long process where I notified and informed professionals of this historic opportunity. Such efforts consisted of emails, lunch and learn events, a meet and greet table in the cafeteria, and flyers posted throughout NIEHS facilities. These were done multiple times and open to all professionals. Considering that approximately 50% of the professionals did turn out for the vote including a decent number who voted ?no? confirms that they did fact know about the election. They may not have taken advantage of these opportunities or ignored my notices but they were there in wide open view. \n\nI learned a lot during this process and next time I will put that knowledge to better use. There are clearly a lot of misconceptions about the Union such as if you are represented then you must pay dues or if you?re a professional then you?re striped of that status when you are represented by a union. On the contrary, union dues are strictly voluntary and no changes occur to an employee?s designation once they are represented by a union. A number of employees continued to spread these misconceptions even after I?d fully explained that they were wrong. Perhaps these employees were simply attempting to sabotage the process. Regardless, I even approached management about sending a mutual email to all professionals but they wanted to insert language that I considered objectionable by misleading the reader into thinking that they would have to pay dues if they voted for representation. I wonder if those employees who voted ?no? considered that they were also voting to ensure that other professionals who might need the benefits and solidarity offered by the Union would not receive those benefits. As I have said to NIEHS professionals, there are no disadvantages to being represented by a Union. Not everyone needs to avail themselves of the benefits but they are there if needed. \n \nThe American Federation of Government Employee Local 2923 or Union at NIEHS has helped reduce disciplinary actions against employees by 300% since 2001. In cases taken on by the Union, disciplinary actions have not been upheld. We?ve also helped employees recover approximately $1000 in telework costs that should have been and ultimately were paid by NIEHS. We have been successful in over 20 unfair labor practices. There are only a few of the many victories we have gained for employees. Currently we are waging efforts regarding overtime, telework, and wellness that will improve the workplace for employees we represent. Employee rights and fairness are top priorities of the Union but certainly do not appear to be top priorities of the management personnel I have dealt with as a Union representative. Those who believe otherwise are na├»ve. Interestingly, at least one of the vocal opposition contacted me in the past for the Union?s help regarding a matter very important to him. I did help but he may have forgotten. Yet none of us should forget all the important benefits that union?s have fought for and won over the years.\n? Established Weekends\n? Established the 8 hour work day and paid overtime\n? Passage of the Civil Right Acts and Title VII which outlaws job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin \n? Federal Holidays\n? Public Schools\n? Paid Health Care\n? Pensions/Retirement\n? Childcare\n? Higher Wages \n? End child labor\n? Established the legal right of workers to form unions and collectively bargain for wages, benefits and working conditions\n? Won workers' compensation benefits for workers injured on the job\n? Secured unemployment insurance for workers who lose their jobs\n? Secured a guaranteed minimum wage\n? Improved workplace safety and reduce on the job fatalities\n? Won health care insurance for workers\n? Won paid sick leave, vacations, and holidays as standard benefits for most workers\n? Won the right for public sector workers to collectively bargain\n? Won passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act\n? Won passage of the Family Medical Leave Act\n? Ensure that federal employees receive annual raises\n? Won locality pay for RTP area federal GS employees\n? Prevented further A-76 action across the federal government\n\nBill Jirles\nPresident\nAFGE Local 2923\n919-541-2637\n919-541-3359 (union office)\n919-541-2583 (fax)\n
Avatar of: Molly Cook

Molly Cook

Posts: 5

July 9, 2009

I have to completely disagree with this statement below. There was no notice concerning the election posted by you or any person affiliated with the union. Those that were able to vote and did vote who expressed interest in forming a union, learned about the election from an e-mail you sent to those select few. Those indicating no interest were not notified by you or any other person associated with the union.\n\n-Considering that approximately 50% of the professionals did turn out for the vote including a decent number who voted ?no? confirms that they did fact know about the election. They may not have taken advantage of these opportunities or ignored my notices but they were there in wide open view. -\n\nOthers who indicated no interest in a union inadvertently learned of the vote on a Friday less than a week before it was to be held. You promised in your e-mail on that Friday that information would be posted at all entrances on Monday regarding the voting places and times. It was not. So intentional or not, the process in many respects came across as questionable. Maybe in the future it would be more appropriate to include all professionals in all of your e-mail and other correspondences (some probably did not see you in the cafeteria simply because they do not venture that far from their bench or office). By doing this you may gain some of the trust that was lost by the manner in which this last attempt to form a union was handle.\n\nYou can blame management all you want but in doing so you are ignoring the bigger picture. You need to listen to those who feel as if your notification processes were less than adequate. Pat Chulada?s comments represented a large number of people. Her comments in this article could have been written verbatim by many who have never met her or would not know her walking down the hallway. For so many people to feel the way she did about the notification processes who do not even know each other makes it seem as if there is some merit to her comments in the article. It makes the attempts to form a union questionable.\n\n
Avatar of: bill jirles

bill jirles

Posts: 3

July 10, 2009

Molly,\nI recall you initially signed the petition and then were ultimately removed. At that time I think you had the misconception that if a union represented professionals then they would be easier to A-76. I think you finally changed that erroneous opinion after I discussed it w/you a few times but then you took up the idea that if a union represented professionals then you?d lose your ?professional? status. Also untrue. \n\nI checked my email and the Union sent notices to all the professionals at NIEHS (list provided by management) on a number of occasions including: 3/12/08, 3/17/08, 3/18/08, 3/28/08, 4/8/08, 5/8/08, 5/15/08, 6/9/08, 6/12/08, 10/15/08, 2/9/08? I?m not sure why some folks didn?t receive these messages or perhaps ignored them. In addition, as I mentioned, I also took a couple hours on a Saturday and (made) posted flyers throughout the main building and Keystone. We had a table set-up in the cafeteria at one point in February. I know one professional person told me they don?t read my email messages, didn?t bother to read the flyers, and don?t go to the cafeteria for lunch. What can I say? Yes, I also sent emails to only those professionals who indicated their interest. There were about 90 of them. During an organizing effort it is not a one-person effort. A big part of the effort lies w/those who are interested.\n\nThe posters regarding the specific vote were handled by management. They told me several times that they were posted at the entrances as I told you. I did check them myself and they were there. It?s difficult for me to believe that anyone entering one of the main entrances (or any entrance at Keystone) could miss them.\n\nPat Chulada wasn?t on the lists since management had initially considered her a management employee, from my recollection. Yet somehow she showed up and demanded to vote. I doubt she represents the majority of professional?s opinions but it is easy to say she does. \n\nThe voting process was handled by the FLRA. They have specific regulations regarding this process. There was nothing that occurred that was outside that fair process that I?m aware of. \n\nI?m not blaming any one group or person. I blame myself, anti-union professionals, and management. As I mentioned, next time things will go better.\n\nThanks.\n
Avatar of: Molly Cook

Molly Cook

Posts: 5

July 13, 2009

I changed my mind because the information you presented was conflicting. Regardless of our initial discussions, ultimately I see no need for a union at NIEHS. It is that simple. \n\nHowever I think if you hear numerous people complaining about lack of information, then as a good union rep you would want to understand how you could have informed all professionals in a better manner. Instead, you seem to dismiss this concern.\n\n?It?s difficult for me to believe that anyone entering one of the main entrances (or any entrance at Keystone) could miss them.?\n\nObviously they did especially given Pat Chulada?s statement and the comment written for the article stating the same.\n\nAgain, instead of being so defensive on this matter, why not take a step back and determine how things could have been done better. That in my eyes would show good leadership.\n\nI don?t think placing blame on anti-union professionals will get you very far. Everyone has a stake in this matter and a right to their beliefs. You may need to come to the realization that the majority of the professionals here do not want a union at NIEHS. The vote was strongly anti-union.\n\nMolly
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

July 13, 2009

By Pat Chulada\n\nSome of these comments in this article are inaccurate as follows: \n \nFirst, we have never had such a director as Linda Birnbaum who is actively reaching out to NIEHS staff to obtain their opinions and feedback on a variety of issues. I have more than once taken advantage of her ?open door policy? and was satisfied in her responses. Her ?Anonymous suggestions to the Director? is a forum for all staff members. She is highly transparent here in that she publishes the suggestions and her plans to address them. In both my past interactions with her many years ago, and in my current ones, I have found her to be a direct and fair person. \n \nSecond, your year-long attempts to ?notify and inform professionals of this historic opportunity through emails, lunch and learning events, a meet and greet table in the cafeteria, and flyers posted throughout NIEHS facilities? failed somehow. Months ago, I received one email describing an informational session for professionals held by union officials, and that was all I ever saw. I received no other emails and saw no flyers or posters. I work in Keystone Building and use both side and main entrances. Someone informed me at a later date that there was one poster set about half way back of the lobby with small print. I didn?t notice it, and doubt that everyone else did. I was grateful when the NIEHS Assembly of Scientists notified the entire professional scientific about the election the day before. I would never have known about it otherwise. The attempt to inform Keystone inhabitants was feeble. I don?t know about the attempts to inform Rall Building inhabitants ? maybe those were better. \n \nThird, I had problems with the election procedures itself. I found it strange that my ?anonymous? ballot was sealed in an envelope with my name on it. In a flood of responses from the NIEHS union representative to me and several others, it was stated ?Also, Pat Chulada wasn?t on the lists since management had initially considered her a management employee, from my recollection. Yet somehow she showed up and demanded to vote. I doubt she represents a large number of people but it is easy to say she does.? The statement that ? showed up and demanded to vote? made me laugh this morning, as I was drinking my coffee. What an angry and inaccurate statement. When I stated my name to the election official, it was on a list in his possession that gave me the right to vote. Should I not have voted? \n \nI also saw no description of how the ballots were to be counted. For example, were independent observers invited to watch the opening and counting of the ballots? The union seemed ill prepared in determining exactly who was in the bargaining unit and ensuring that those individuals were well informed about the whole process. I never saw any information on this before the election. \n \nOut of 114 institutions, NIEHS was rated ?one of the best places to work? in Scientist magazine by post docs and other types of scientists. I think that opinion is shared by the majority of the scientific and professional staff. I have been at the NIEHS since 1983 and have been offered unprecedented opportunities that I would never have been offered at other Institutions. I have seen many others offered great opportunities as well. I also have found that if you are diligent in your work, you are rewarded. \n \nAs stated by you and The Scientist in their previous article, in spite of the little advertisement and notification of the Union election (I can only speak for Keystone inhabitants), 50% of the professional staff did indeed turn out to vote, and voted against the union 2:1. \n
Avatar of: bill jirles

bill jirles

Posts: 3

July 15, 2009

First, my statement was, ?I don?t recall anything that Dr. Birnbaum has done thus far that I would call union-friendly or pushing initiatives that focus on improved workplace conditions for all employees.? If you think an anonymous suggestion box is enough to say that she is ?union-friendly? or ?pushing initiatives that focus on improved workplace conditions for all employees? then we simply disagree.\n\nSecond, you weren?t included on the list initially provided by management so you wouldn?t have been included on the emails. But many were sent, and I?m not sure how you missed the signs or notices but they were definitely there. But you said you did receive one email. Did you follow-up on it or come to that meeting? Apparently not.\n\nThird, the election procedures are run by the FLRA. They have specific government regulations on how they are conducted. The Union has nothing to do with that. Your name was disputed since it wasn?t on the original list. Later when the votes were counted we needed to know what names were disputed so we could reconcile them. Once they were resolved the votes were shuffled into the rest of the anonymous vote pile. No one could have known what your vote was. As for observers, there was an FLRA person who conducted the election ? neutral and independent. Then there was one observer for the union (a professional) and one for management (one w/no coercive capacity). The observers could only observe and no more. Also, the Union knows exactly who is in the bargaining unit but professionals aren?t included in the bargaining unit unless they vote to be represented. I think you may be confused about some issues here.\n\nFinally, I have to disagree w/the ?one of the best places to work? ratings. I find it very difficult to believe especially based on other surveys such as those conducted by HHS and more recently NIEHS that show otherwise. Plus, I?m not privy to how many people vote in those surveys. It may be very few. Nonetheless I concede that it might be possible that the professionals here are happy as clams and couldn?t ever hope for anything better. (Keep in mind, some of those reasons why you are happy are the result of the unions ? please see my original post.) Based on my discussions w/more than 40 or more professionals things could definitely be better here.\n\nMy comments in my original post stand related to the negative results of the election.\n\nI don?t pretend that there are no anti-union folks in the professional group and it?s usually futile to even attempt to sway the anti-union folks. It?s just that I have the distinct impression that the great majority of NIEHS professionals are more progressive than that and would ultimately benefit from the advantages the Union offers. You may have a lot of opportunities since you have a Ph.D. yet not all professionals do. You may have a very nice relationship w/your supervisor and you may not have ever experienced any sexism, retaliation, or discrimination ? but others have. And you may believe that NIEHS can be no better and you don?t want any kind of insurance that it stays that way. Yet others do.\n\nJust one comment about the 'best place to work' vote tallied by the Scientist. If you recall when David Schwartz showed up he posted big signs in the institute about how NIEHS was in the top 5 best places to work as voted on by postdoctoral fellows.\n(http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54365/).\nFrom that year we have slipped every year and in 2008 we were ranked 16th but still first for NIH institutes and centers. Not sure how the voting goes and how many participate but it is encouraged by the Office of Careers and Development of Fellows. This survey is designed to help students looking for the best opportunity to get training and funding, mentoring and research opportunities that will aid in the pursuit of the few Principal Investigator positions available after their postdoctoral fellowship has ended.\nI personally don't think that those numbers nor their limited time here at the Institute (max 5y) can speak for career scientists and professionals at the NIEHS. The career paths are completely different.\n\nBill Jirles\nPresident\nAFGE 2923
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

July 22, 2009

From The OM Grapevine published July 2009\n-The NIEHS Bicycle Program\nA total of 4 bicycles (2 male models; 2 female models) are now available for your use on campus. Federal employees may ride these bikes for travel between buildings on the NIEHS / EPA Campus and for on-campus recreation. Riders must register in advance with the program and wear a bicycle helmet for safety (loaner helmets are available for riders not providing their own).\n\nBicycling provides an alternative to the use of fossil-fueled vehicles, is enjoyable and can help you stay healthy. More information on the program, including how to become a registered bike user can be found at: http://inside-www.niehs.nih.gov/odhsb/bikes/index.cfm\n\nBargaining unit employees represented by AFGE, Local 2923 will be permitted to participate in the program upon completion of negotiations.\n\nOther important issues the AFGE, Local 2923 is blocking:\n\n-Cafeteria want to switch from Starbucks to Duncan Donuts coffee. This would save employees money and provide them with more options.\n\nAFGE, Local 2923 will not permit it.\n\n-The cafeteria would like to switch to machines that dispense juice in order to reduce the number of plastic juice bottles discarded daily. What a concept especially for an environmental institute.\n\nThe AFGE, Local 292 blocked this change.\n\nIt appears that the AFGE, Local 2923 isn't interested helping the NIEHS employees become healthier by riding bikes, isn't interested in saving the NIEHS employees money by switching coffee brands, and isn't interested in helping the environment by reducing the number of juice bottles in the cafeteria.\n\nThanks for the help AFGE, Local 2923. Tell is again why we need a Union at NIEHS. Thanks but no thanks.\n\n\n

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