FEMA Workers Union Fights to Protect Whistleblower

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has filed a Whistleblower Protection Act complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel because of threats to terminate an agency employee who recently leaked an internal agency memo to Congress.

Last month AFGE Local 4060, which represents employees at FEMA headquarters, provided members of the House and Senate with an internal FEMA memo indicating racial bias in the agency's hiring and promotion practices. A senior FEMA official subsequently told AFGE that the person who leaked the memo would be fired.

"Harassment and intimidation of whistleblowers is a violation of federal law. AFGE is a protector of those courageous government employees who step forward to challenge wrongdoing and hold our government accountable to the people," said AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Andrea Brooks.

"FEMA's problems must be corrected, not covered up," said AFGE Local 4060 President Leo Bosner. "FEMA needs to promote the most capable employees to key positions and hire experienced emergency management professionals to reduce the number of vacancies. Personnel decisions must be based on merit, not on connections and irrelevant factors. Didn't we learn from Katrina that competence and ability matter?"

Bosner says the union also will file charges with the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

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