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Disruptions Open Council's First Meeting

At least three people have now been kicked out of the John A. Wilson Building this morning as members of Empower D.C., protesting the closing of Franklin Shelter, became disruptive during today's D.C. Council meeting.

The council is expected to approve emergency legislation today that will stop the closing of the downtown homeless shelter until Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) outlines the city's plan for relocation of the 300 men who live there. About 60 men had already been moved by Friday of last week into apartments where they are also supposed to be provided with wraparound services.

Today is the council's first meeting since it went on recess in mid-July.

Empower D.C., a group that protests the sale of public land for private use, backs the council plan. The group drew dozens of supporters to the Wilson Building for a demonstration that began at about 9 a.m. "Stop selling public land. D.C. Council take a stand," they yelled in sing-song unison.


Their numbers ballooned as they were joined by the locals of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Government Employees.

The labor unions were actually at the Wilson Building to draw attention to what they say has been unfair terminations of employees throughout District agencies, the result of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's unwritten zero tolerance policy.

The demonstration of 200 people appeared to be under the umbrella of anti-Fenty.

"Mayor Adrian Fenty and those in his administration have run roughshod over city employees; violating personnel regulations, ignoring collective bargaining agreements, and abandoning labor-management partnerships," Eric Bunn, president of AFGE Council 211, said in a statement. "While the challenges facing DC agencies have been widely reported, the Mayor has avoided accepting responsibility for the failures of his administration by offering city employees as scapegoats. City employee representatives have sought to meet with Mayor Fenty in an effort to resolve the issues crippling the system; however, he has continued to show disdain for the work of city employees and has repeatedly ignored the input of frontline workers."

By Nikita R Stewart  |  September 16, 2008; 11:34 AM ET
 
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Comments

Listen union leaders, its time someone held the DC employees accountible. I support Mayor Fenty's moves for a zero tolerance policy. Finally, someone with the balls to stand up to labor. If labor wants to stand up for a better, stronger DC workforce, you should be holding your members accountible as well. What's more important a government job for one union member or a better DC government for all District residents. And with the unemployment rate as high as it is, labor can certainly find qualified employees who want to work and will do an excellent job for the District and be held accountible for results. Lets all improve DC together.

Hold District employees accountible. No more blank checks for lazy, disrespectful and ineffective, uncaring District workers. The stakes are too high!! Do your job or get out of the way.

Posted by: District Democrat | September 16, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Thank goodness Adrian Fenty is taking a stand against the complacency and laziness that permeates District services. As a D.C. taxpayer and homeowner I cringe at the thought of having to interact with city agencies as I am able to correctly anticipate that each interaction with a D.C. employee over the 5+ years I've been in the city will be and has been characterized by inefficiency, misninformation and lots of attitude. They act as if they are doing you [the citizen] a favor and as if it is your personal obligation as a D.C. citizen to miss a full day of work while they B.S. you.

Give me a break. Keep up the good work Mayor Fenty. Fire them all, I say start from the top though!!!

Posted by: kokoesquire | September 16, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am all for eliminating government inefficiency - who isn't? But there's right and a wrong way to go about it. Yet again, here we have an example of a zero-sum game. In fact, it is possible to be rid of poor performing employees while at the same time observing the labor-management process for doing so, a process that guards against unfair dismissal in an individual case. Fenty, for instance, did no one any favors by summarily firing those social workers some months back when it was perceived that the social workers were not doing their jobs in that highly publicized matter. Instead, the child welfare agency ended up scrambling to transfer child caseloads among other already overworked social workers, creating more pressure for government workers to begin to look for ways to "cut corners," which usually means someone ends up receiving poor social services down the line. A more thoughtful approach will, in the end, still accomplish the same goals as a "get-tough" method.

Posted by: DCEsq | September 16, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I applaud Fenty's efforts. I hope he knows the vast majority of residents are on his side.

Posted by: Hillman | September 16, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Hillman,

Speak for yourself.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | September 16, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm with "Concerned Citizen", and I also say to "Hillman", speak for yourself. I know few folks who are supporting Fenty these days, even those like me who once did. I see a none-too-bright man that is clearly anti-union (too bad that wasn't an issue during the campaign, his support would have been significantly less) and a man who seems to support "government as big brother"! He'll never get my vote again.

Posted by: wpost36 | September 16, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Look, Adrian wanted this job. He knows what is wrong. And right in the bullseye of most problems are inefficient and lazy DC employees. There, I have said it. Most of my family works for the City, and we are lazy and inefficient. And we give certain types of people a hard time. But do you want us on the streets, with guns?

Posted by: Fenty Supporter | September 16, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

It is disheartening to hear some of our citizens of the District show such disrespect for District employees. I have served in the District Government for over 22 years. My evaluations have gone from satisfactory to excellent. I know of many employees who have performed equally if not better. What I keep hearing is smearing of the reputation of District employees with no true basis in fact. In fact, federal workers do not have to endure this humiliation because they basically talk to other federal workers. The Mayor was wrong when he fired the social workers; his act was arbitrary and capricious. Our workers are dumped on by everyone. Our Mayor is supposed to stand up for us. Our D.C. Delegate has failed in every respect to monitor the egregious policies that have adversely affected many District workers. The Delegate's indifference to District workers is shameful. Point in fact: Senator Barbara Milkulski makes it abundantly clear that she will fight to protect federal workers. Moreover, federal workers have several other elected officials to stand up for them. District employees only have the Delegate. Not once has she said anything in suport of District employees, nothing. This Delegate has turned a deaf ear to District workers and someone needs to run against her in this November election so that she can finally be removed. Those of you who hold District employees in such callous disregard are spewing venom, racism and most of all, jealousy because we dare to try to stand up and call ourselves civil servants. District employees (union and non-union); We must unite. Our well-deserved government careers, families and communities are at risk. Yes, we can, and yes, we will!

Posted by: DZPost | September 16, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

It is disheartening to hear some of our citizens of the District show such disrespect for District employees. I have served in the District Government for over 22 years. My evaluations have gone from satisfactory to outstanding, working on problems to benefit both citizen and employee. I know of many employees who have performed equally if not better, devoting themselves to their careers. But career is a dirty word now; it has become politically correct in the District to show disdain for career service. Many of you that complain about your interactions with District employees have "attitudes." You know that District workers' rights are thinly veiled and you take advantage of this. Yes, we are here to serve you, but we are not supposed to be insulted, humiliated and treated with disrespect. What I keep hearing is basically smearing of the reputation of District employees, piling on, with no real basis in fact. Why do you bloggers not also complain about federal workers? How about Maryland and Virginia workers? In fact, federal workers avoid this humiliation because they basically talk to other federal workers. The Mayor was wrong when he fired the six social workers; his act was essentially arbitrary and capricious. We can all agree that the case of the "four" girls was heartbreaking. But, this act was within their Mother's control. The sad part is that some of the social workers are union employees, and have some semblance of protection. The non-union social workers have no recourse. It is for this reason, non-union employees rights must be protected. District workers are often dumped on by everyone, especially in the press. Our Mayor is supposed to stand up for us and defend "his troops." Our D.C. Delegate has failed miserably in every respect to monitor the egregious policies that have adversely affected many District workers. The Delegate's indifference to District workers is shameful. Point in fact: Senator Barbara Milkulski makes it abundantly clear that she will fight to protect federal workers. Moreover, federal workers have several other elected officials to stand up for them. District employees only have the Delegate. Not once has she said anything in suport of District employees, nothing. This Delegate has turned a deaf ear to District workers and someone needs to run against her in this November election so that she can finally be removed. Those of you who hold District employees in such callous disregard are spewing venom, racism and most of all, jealousy because we dare to try to stand up and call ourselves civil servants. District employees (union and non-union); We must unite. Our well-deserved government careers, families and communities are at risk. Yes, we can, and yes, we will!

Posted by: DZPost | September 16, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Fenty has my continued support. As a black man in DC I am continually frustrated when my own people can't seem to get it right. Keep on doing what you're doing mayor Fenty. You are doing a great job.

Posted by: Ward 5 Voter | September 16, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Stepping away from the hyperbolie for an instant, sure, there are good DC employees. Even in the worst functioning bureacracies, there are good people doing good work. However, this is more than just a grumble about the lines at the DMV. The city buearcracy has been broken for years (thank you, Marion) and although things have gotten better, the city workers still have a long way to go before they have earned back the trust of the average taxpayer. The recent rash of scandals isn't going to help that. Now, I understand the union sticking up for its member; it is one of the things the members pay dues for. But it is also time that the unions recognized that all is not well within their ranks. They could ask the Federal worker unions about ignoring the performance and taxpayer faith issues. The goverment's response to that was to outsource problem areas, which quickly spread to everywhere else. I imagine a little soul-searching would be much less painful than losing jobs.

Posted by: j-man | September 16, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

DC employees are neither civil or employees. They are just a bunch of tired folk who long ago retired on the job. Kick the whole lot of them out.

Posted by: Fire them all | September 16, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Time to send this homeless mess back to the states from which they came from. DC needs to reform its laws and eliminate those which which guarentee everyone a home. Lets get real and address our city's own problems without having to deal with the problems we are so willing to import.

Posted by: Obama4DC | September 16, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Buy those homeless one-way bus tickets to the west coast. Problem solved.

Posted by: A. Fenty | September 16, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Finally someone who has the ball$ to stand up to the unions. I'm a District resident and I'm sick of seeing previous mayors and councils falling all over themselves to kiss the union a$$e$. District public employees had no fear of losing their jobs no matter how bad the performed. The unions apparently believe that union employees can't be fired no matter what the reason.

Posted by: Big Jim | September 16, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

having grown up in the 'burbs, i always heard horror stories about the inefficiencies and incompetence of the DC bureaucracy. but since i moved into the city, i've actually been surprised to have had good encounters with city services. for instance: i recently went to the DMV and had a really pleasant experience! honestly, the process was smoother than any other state i've lived in; all of the folks i interacted with knew what the hell they were doing and, on top of that, were nice. i'm not saying this because i think fenty had anything to do with it (i'm not such a fenty fan myself and think that these problems get created and then solved over a number of years), but rather to point out that the DC gov't and DC city employees are not a collective pile of crap.

also, i think blaming unions for the aforementioned inefficiencies and incompetence shows that folks don't understand how unions work. to address one issue: union members actually can be fired if they are truly doing a terrible job -- that would be called termination for just cause. uh, i'd say more, but i basically agree with what DCEsq said above.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

having grown up in the 'burbs, i always heard horror stories about the inefficiencies and incompetence of the DC bureaucracy. but since i moved into the city, i've actually been surprised to have had good encounters with city services. for instance: i recently went to the DMV and had a really pleasant experience! honestly, the process was smoother than any other state i've lived in; all of the folks i interacted with knew what the hell they were doing and, on top of that, were nice. i'm not saying this because i think fenty had anything to do with it (i'm not such a fenty fan myself and think that these problems get created and then solved over a number of years), but rather to point out that the DC gov't and DC city employees are not a collective pile of crap.

also, i think blaming unions for the aforementioned inefficiencies and incompetence shows that folks don't understand how unions work. to address one issue: union members actually can be fired if they are truly doing a terrible job -- that would be called termination for just cause. uh, i'd say more, but i basically agree with what DCEsq said above.

Posted by: tomatoes | September 16, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

It would appear that Fenty staffers are responsible for the anti-labor comments here. Fenty has been anti-union since organized labor supported Linda in the primary for mayor. Organized labor endorsed him in the general election: however he has ignored labor by choice since he has held the executive position.

Fenty fails to understand that a healthy D.C. union workforce-management relationship will require the following:

1. A motivated and well-trained workforce, Fenty is destroying
this concept daily.

2. A workforce engaged and excited in meeting the
requirements of the customer. Under the Fenty
administration this is not the case. It is just the opposite sine
he entered office.

3. An efficient system for addressing problems arising under
the administration of the collective bargaining agreement
(efficient grievance procedure/good labor-management
relationship). The Fenty administration has cut the entire
budget for labor management programs (partnership) for the
upcoming fiscal year.

4. Partnership was the most efficient system for addressing
operational and employee problems not covered by the
collective bargaining agreement, along with the capability to
adapt to changing circumstances and improved customer
service. Fenty has refused to engage with D. C. labor, period.
He has been totally inflexible.

Here are the real union and non-union facts: Fenty's ongoing attacks on DC public employees only serve to weaken the District of Columbia's public health and safety. We won't let him do it, and neither should the residents. Fenty is fast becoming the most disrespected and unpopular mayors in D. C. history.

Posted by: DC resident and employee | September 16, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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