Union 'Witch Hunt' Decried

The leaders of the association that represents senior federal executives have accused a major federal employees union of launching a "witch hunt" against senior career managers.

Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, and G. Jerry Shaw, the association's general counsel, have written a letter to Vice President Gore complaining about an effort by the American Federation of Government Employees to identify career members of the Senior Executive Service who the union believes do not adequately support the Clinton Administration's policies and its efforts at labor-management partnership.

According to a report in The Washington Post, AFGE president John Sturdivant sent a memo to AFGE staffers in various agencies last November asking them to identify "career SES people who, based on specific experiences, you believe have been adverse to the mission of the agency." AFGE, Sturdivant indicated, would forward information on such individuals to the Clinton Administration's second-term transition teams in an effort to get them moved out of their jobs.

Sturdivant's memo, first revealed by the Federal Labor and Employee Relations Update, a newsletter published by FPMI Communications Inc., said union officers should use the "Plum Book," a congressionally published list of the government's top career and political positions, to guide them in their "review of people in career SES positions who should be 'moved.' "

In their letter to Gore, Bonosaro and Shaw said "the preparation, and forwarding to Clinton transition teams, of detrimental opinion and hearsay is extremely disturbing and might be viewed, not unfairly, as a witch hunt."

"It's not a witch hunt," says AFGE spokesperson Diane Witiak. "It was never [Sturdivant's] intention to go after a certain group of people." AFGE officials, she said, are also being asked to identify union members who are adversarial to the idea of cooperating with management. And Sturdivant's memo also asked union officials to identify agency leaders who they believe "merit an increased role in your agency because they have empowered employees and embraced partnership principles."

But some AFGE officials say they are already planning to target senior agency leaders. "We're prepared to name names," says John Anderegg, treasurer of AFGE Local 1812 at the United States Information Agency, which withdrew from its partnership effort with USIA's management this fall. "You know, how Santa Claus makes a list of who's naughty or nice."

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