GAO Analysts Campaign to Organize Union
The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) announced that employees at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have launched a union organizing campaign to represent the 1,500 analysts. This campaign has gained widespread support from hundreds of GAO analysts at all levels, ages and lengths of service. This is the first time that a vote for union representation rights will be held at the agency that serves as Congress’ investigative arm.
“GAO wants to be a model agency for the rest of the federal sector, but its new personnel system has become a model of what not to do,” said IFPTE President Greg Junemann. “GAO’s management has had insufficient regard for concerns expressed by individual analysts or the agency’s Employee Advisory Council. People who work at the agency are in the dark about how personnel management decisions are made. As a result, the agency’s recent changes to its classification system has undercut the team approach that has made the agency both effective in its mission and a place where people enjoy coming to work.”
In recent years, GAO has received authority from Congress to further seperate GAO personnel policies from those of the Executive Branch. The agency has made significant changes to its pay-for-performance system and its employee classifications. The new personnel policies have been held up as a model for other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. While GAO routinely reviews the personnel policies of other federal agencies, GAO’s own personnel policies lack similar oversight and analysts have few opportunites to influence changes in compensation and evaluation.
Indeed GAO’s own guidance to other federal agencies counts employee involvement and empowerment as essential to successful, strategic “human capital” management. Yet this element is missing at the GAO workplace.
By forming a Union GAO employees will bring to bear the collective analytical skills of the GAO staff to help create and implement personnel policy and work rules that not only serve the interests of employees, management, and Congress but also serve the public interest by making GAO a model employer that positively influences overall federal personnel policy.
IFPTE’s organizing campaign at GAO began several months ago when a group of analysts approached the president of the IFPTE local union at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) about forming an organizing committee. CRS, a sister agency to GAO, has had union representation for 27 years.
In addition to those employed at GAO’s Washington headquarters, the union is reaching out to Band I and Band II analysts at all GAO field offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Dayton, Denver, Huntsville, Los Angeles, Norfolk, San Francisco and Seattle.
Across the nation, IFPTE represents thousands of highly-skilled, white-collar workers. In the federal sector, IFPTE-represented employees include NASA scientists, Department of Defense engineers, scientists and technicians, Federal immigration and administrative law judges as well as the Congressional Research Service staff. The union, representing 80,000 members in the public and private sector, is the fastest growing union in the United States. IFPTE is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.