EEOC cancels second phase of furloughs

Friday - 7/12/2013, 4:09pm EDT

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission confirmed Thursday that there will not be a second round of furlough days for employees.

The agency came to this decision after a two-week discussion period. In an effort to absorb sequestration budget cuts, the EEOC had already required employees to take five unpaid furlough days from April 22 to July 2. The agency decided against a second phase, which would have meant three more days of unpaid leave for employees.

EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien said in a memorandum to employees, "I am pleased to report that the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has completed the analysis of the agency's resources and advised me that it will not be necessary to implement Phase II of the furlough to achieve the necessary savings in fiscal year 2013. Therefore, additional furlough hours are not required from those employees who have already completed their Phase I furlough requirements. Phase II of the furlough is canceled and employees who have already completed their Phase I furlough obligations will not be furloughed an additional 24 hours."

Gabrielle Martin, president of the American Federation of Government Employees' National Council of EEOC Locals No. 216, commended the EEOC in a statement. "We applaud the EEOC for making the right decision," she said. "Furloughs harm the public, harm EEOC employees and their families, and harm the communities in which they reside."

Some EEOC employees used this image as their Facebook profile pictures to protest furloughs.

After the initial announcement of the furloughs, AFGE mounted a campaign in which EEOC employees wrote letters to Berrien sharing their personal stories, tweeted the agency and changed their Facebook profile pictures to support the cause.

Despite EEOC's cancellation of furloughs, sequestration remains a pressing issue for Congress. On Thursday, the House Appropriations draft bill recommended a budget of $355 million to the EEOC in fiscal 2014, reducing its budget by $15 million from fiscal 2013.

"The union will have two goals as we move forward: one, end sequestration; and two, prevent future furloughs," Martin said in a statement. "Unless Congress undoes sequestration, it is here to stay for 10 years."

In the same statement, Martin cited suggestions for cost-savings measures such as reducing wasteful management travel; reducing district budgets 5 percent commiserate with the sequestration reduction; and discontinuing service contracts that allow contract support staff, paralegals and mediators to be paid for work EEOC employees perform.

"EEOC must find a better way to manage current and future cuts than furloughing its entire workforce," Martin said.

"We will continue to prioritize our spending and examine all planned expenditures making reductions where we can to realize future savings," Berrien said in the memorandum.

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