NATIONAL COUNCIL OF EEOC L0CALS No 216, AFGE, AFL-CIO
Office of the President
c/o Denver District Office, EEOC
303 East 17th Avenue, Suite 510, Denver, Colorado 80203
Tele: (303) 866-1337 Fax: (303) 866-1900
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2007 (303) 725-9079
SENATE OVERSEERS CALL EEOC TO TASK FOR
"MANAGEMENT, MORALE, AND MONEY"
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee which oversees the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), spent this morning grilling the agency’s Chair, Naomi Earp, on three issues, "management, morale, and money." Frontline staffing cuts at the EEOC have led to an anticipated backlog of 54,000 by year’s end. When Chair Earp used the ambiguous label of "charge inventory" to gloss over the problem, Sen. Mikulski quickly interrupted to ask, "Does that mean backlog?" After a moment’s pause, Chair Earp responded, "essentially."
The Senate hearing, like a similar House hearing last month, was punctuated by the odd scenario of an agency head refusing the help of a Congress concerned that "EEOC has been flatfunded for five years." While Sen. Mikulski asked Chair Earp directly, "Do you need more people?," Earp claimed that the agency is okay with the President’s budget. Though, at the same time Earp conceded that she is "OMB [Office of Management and Budget] embargoed" from sharing the agency’s true budget needs.
According to Gabrielle Martin, President of the National Council of EEOC Locals, No. 216, which represents EEOC’s employees, "It is reprehensible stewardship of the EEOC and our civil rights mission to fail to seek and to reject critically needed staff and funding. Here Senator Mikulski, a civil rights champion, is trying to throw a lifepreserver to the EEOC, and Chair Earp says that she would rather drown."
Sen. Mikulski also voiced her concern over EEOC’s reliance on an outsourced call center/ "answering machine." Sen. Mikulski further notes the call center "never lived up to its promise." Martin agrees, "The best course of action is spelled out in the Senate’s Fiscal Year ‘07 Report Language, which is to defund the call center. This would save the EEOC $2.5 million annually and cut a layer of bureaucracy for the public."
The call center and the agency’s contraversial restructuring, which downgraded a dozen EEOC offices, including in Baltimore, was spawned by a 2002 NAPA report. Sen. Mikulski stated that she was "not a fan of this report or the track it put us on." Instead the Senator called for an updated GAO report that would study demographic growth in such places as the National Capitol region, to identify where EEOC should best be expending its resources. Martin responded, "The Union, as well as I’m sure many civil rights groups who opposed the NAPA conclusions, feels vindicated that Sen. Mikulski rejects the NAPA roadmap that has led to the dimishment of EEOC."