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A-76 Process Protested at Rally
By Carla Garnett
Photos by John Crawford
Led by union officials of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2419, more than two dozen picketers and many other NIH employees gathered in front of Bldg. 1 on July 17 to protest the A-76 process. The rally was the second of three planned within the last few weeks to demonstrate dissatisfaction among many employees about the policy that is reviewing hundreds of job categories for potential competitions with outside contractors. Of particular concern, according to union representatives, is the manner and speed with which the policy is being carried out at NIH.
"This is a new experience for us," noted Richard Laubach, president of AFGE Local 2419, in opening remarks at the July 17 rally. "We've never had to go to this extent to protect our jobs."
In addition to the Bldg. 1 picket line, a similar protest was held along Rockville Pike, the street on which NIH is located, the week before. Another rally was planned on July 22 in front of HHS headquarters, the Hubert Humphrey Bldg. in downtown Washington, D.C.
Local union members were joined by members of NIH's chapter of Blacks in Government and BIG Region XI Council President Rawle King, an employee of the Library of Congress, as well as members of the Fraternal Order of Police local chapter and the firefighters union. Offering a brief history of the union, Laubach said AFGE, founded in 1962, represents hundreds of NIH employees in such positions as librarian, cook, electrician, carpenter, plumber, pipe fitter, locksmith, graphic designer and photographer.
"We're going to fight A-76," he said. "We're building our constituency."
In support of the union's efforts, Jacque Ballard, president of the NIH chapter of BIG, said, "The A-76 study at the NIH is being conducted in an unfair and untimely manner. We agree that the process has been 'fast tracked' and this is not allowing the federal employees sufficient time to properly and accurately document the vital services they provide to the National Institutes of Health. This may cause the federal employees to ultimately lose the Most Efficient Organization (MEO) competition for their positions."
King congratulated the picketers for organizing the demonstration.
"This is exactly what is needed right now," he said, addressing the assembly. "You all are making a difference. The folks on Capitol Hill know what you are doing...All federal workers want is an opportunity to compete fairly for our jobs. This policy of outsourcing doesn't care who you are. They just want your jobs."
"We stand behind you in your fight against A-76," said Clyde Bartz, president of NIH's chapter of the FOP. "Keep federal employees here. Keep A-76 out of our workplace."
Following an opening prayer and flag salute, remarks were made by Laubach, NIH BIG President Ballard, King and Bartz. Afterwards, about 25 people carrying picket signs marched on the lawn in front of the main NIH administrative building, chanting various slogans, including, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, A-76 has got to go."
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