Daily Labor Report
Thursday, December 22, 2005 Page A-1
Field Reorganization Plan Moves Forward; EEOC Cancels Meeting Vote on Modification
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cancelled a scheduled meeting to vote on a modification to a proposed field office reorganization plan, setting the stage for likely implementation of the underlying plan in January, sources told BNA.
The pending field office reorganization plan would downsize eight district offices--Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Seattle--into "field" and "area" offices with fewer management staffers, and would add two new offices in Mobile, Ala., and Las Vegas. The revised plan would have made minor changes in the counties reporting to the Baltimore office, but would not otherwise change the reorganization (238 DLR A-8, 12/13/05).
EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez "decided to cancel the [Dec. 21] meeting," and the field office reorganization plan is expected to be implemented without changes on Jan. 1, according to a Dec. 21 internal memo from a high-ranking EEOC official obtained by BNA. The underlying plan was approved on a 3-1 vote by the commission last July, over the dissent of Democratic Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru.
An EEOC spokesman said that no announcement has been made about an implementation date.
EEOC officials have stressed that no jobs would be lost in the reorganization and that the plan is aimed at responding to the agency's current needs and the needs of its constituents. However, opponents of the plan, including the union representing EEOC employees, have argued that it could weaken the agency's enforcement efforts in the field.
In a letter to Dominguez earlier this month, Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski (Md.) and Edward Kennedy (Mass.) also renewed their opposition to the reorganization and the then-pending modification. Mikulski is the senior Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, which appropriates funds for EEOC, and Kennedy is the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
The proposed modification of the plan "does not address concerns we raised about downgrading the Baltimore office from a district office to a field office," the senators wrote in a Dec. 13 letter. "We remain concerned that downgrading district offices impacts the Commission's ability to effectively enforce civil rights laws. We understand that you now intend to implement the reform proposal immediately, despite Congressional opposition, and without any further opportunity for discussion of these issues. We urge you to reconsider this decision. We are certainly willing to work with your office on these issues, but we remain strongly opposed to the current restructuring proposal."
While Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va), a key congressional appropriator, had expressed concerns about the reorganization, which he subsequently lifted, Mikulski has continued to oppose the plan.
By Nancy Montwieler