Walt Lange Parting Thoughts

NTEU Monday Minute for the Week of April 20, 2015: Parting Thoughts

Last Friday, Walter Lange retired from the NRC. Walter was the elected Executive Vice President in the previous term but, at the time of his retirement, was (and still is) a Vice President-at-Large. The following are a few words he wanted to share with the bargaining unit about why he believes in the importance of a strong union presence:

I believe in the power of unity. I believe in the importance of a strong and vocal union.

As I retire from NRC after almost 7 years, and after 25 years of combined federal service, I am more convinced than ever of the absolute need for a strong union presence.

In the face of multiple initiatives in recent years — TABS, the reorganizations of several offices, and recently, Project Aim 2020, the Union has been active, but should continually strive to be more active in speaking for employees at all levels.

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey has shown a marked negative trend in key indicators: Training, Trust, Opportunity, and Engagement.

Even more notable than the overall negative trends, is the large differences in positive responses of non-bargaining unit employees compared to the responses of senior executives — 20, 30 and sometimes almost 40 percentage points difference.  Why is there such disparity between the perceptions of bargaining unit employees from those of senior executives?  There is an apparent lack of communication.

Employees can be quiet, resigned, or complacent with this reality, BUT nothing changes when employees are quiet, resigned or complacent.

Project Aim 2020 recommendations have been presented to the Commission. The Commissioner’s votes will direct the Agency to make important changes in approaches and priorities as the Agency addresses decisions regarding People, Planning, and Processes.

The Project Aim Report identified 5 key challenges that are described in Appendix F (ML15026A091 – SECY-15-0015: Appendix F, Root Cause Analysis of Process Improvements).

The cited challenges affect every employee directly or indirectly:

Ø Processes not documented or the documentation is not accurate;

Ø Unclear roles and responsibilities;

Ø Processes are not standardized;

Ø Process participants are not adequately trained; and

Ø Competing priorities

The union must be actively engaged in Project Aim 2020 at all levels in the preparation and implementation of changes – and there WILL be significant changes – with or without employee input.  Participation of union members at the Office-level, Division-level, and in the Regions is critical.

Today’s work place conditions are taken for granted but would not exist without the activism and advocacy of unions over the years, including the 40 hour work week, paid vacation, sick leave, and flexible schedules.  These rights, and so much more that many of us take for granted today, came to be ONLY because unions fought hard. And in those fights, some lost their lives in the struggles for these rights. We should never forget this!

Today, the rights of federal employees are at risk in the Congress. The rights of federal employees are at risk in the media. The rights of federal employees are at risk when employees are quiet, resigned or complacent.

Your voice must be heard.  Contact Sheryl Burrows, President of Chapter 208 NTEU or Maria Schwartz, Executive Vice President of Chapter 208 NTEU, in the union office at nteu@nrc.gov or stop by the union office at O 1G22. If you are more comfortable, talk with your office union representative. But be sure that your voice is heard.

 In Case You Missed It: The Native American Advisory Committee (NAAC) invites you to its lunchtime professional development seminar, “Our Eyes and Ears: NRC Staff Experience in the Regions.” Staff from across the agency—managers, branch chiefs, and technical staff—will talk about their experiences on rotations or permanent assignments in the regions. How was the work different? What did they like about it? How did the experience benefit their careers? What interesting “sea stories” did they collect? If a regional rotation or assignment is something you are considering, or if you’d just like to hear about these experiences, please join us! This seminar is open to all NRC employees and will be broadcast by video teleconference to all regional offices.

When: Wednesday, April 22, 2015; Where: 3WFN 1-C03/1-C05; Time: 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. ; Bridge line: 800-779-1746; Passcode: 37884#;  Please e-mail Theresa Clark if you have any questions. You can find information about NAAC on its SharePoint Site.

Someone Said: “Courage is not the absence of fear or desire, but the strength to conquer them.” — 14th Dalai Lama, monk

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