Max Feige, first vice president of AFGE Local 3599, said that the effort to kick a union official out of an office specifically guaranteed by a memorandum of understanding is just the latest in a years-long campaign of “coercion” against union activity at the Tampa field office.

Max Feige, first vice president of AFGE Local 3599, said that the effort to kick a union official out of an office specifically guaranteed by a memorandum of understanding is just the latest in a years-long campaign of “coercion” against union activity at the Tampa field office. Royce Bair/Getty Images

The FLRA Issues Another Complaint Against EEOC, This Time Over Tampa Union Evictions

Officials with the union representing EEOC employees said a steward was kicked out of their agency-provided office space after highlighting long-running anti-union animus by management at the Tampa field office.

A regional director at the Federal Labor Relations Authority last month issued a formal complaint against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the second time in as many months following allegations that officials in the agency’s Tampa field office unlawfully moved to evict union officials from agency-provided office space.

In August 2021, management at EEOC’s Tampa field office ordered a union steward with the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3599, which represents employees in the office, to vacate their long-held office, despite the fact that a memorandum of understanding reserved that office for the union steward. The union filed two unfair labor practice complaints against the agency, one over the eviction itself and another for ordering bargaining unit employees to move their own offices to accommodate the eviction in contravention of the collectively bargained procedures for office moves.

In 2018, President Trump signed a series of executive orders aimed at clamping down on union activity at federal agencies and making it easier to fire federal workers that, among other things, ordered agencies to evict all federal employee unions from federal property or charge them rent for the space. When President Biden took office, he quickly rescinded those orders and reinstated union officials to their previously held office space.

Max Feige, first vice president of AFGE Local 3599, said the eviction decision came one day after union officials met with a representative from EEOC’s headquarters and discussed long-running anti-union practices by management at the field office.

“One day, as part of an assist visit with someone from the [EEOC] Office of Field Programs, we discussed our concerns with the Tampa field office, and the day after, our union steward was notified that he would be evicted from his office,” Feige said. “[This] was when we were still in the middle of the pandemic, but I guess it was more important to the field office management to use these retaliatory tactics against the union in the field office than employee safety, as they directed him and other employees to move during that time frame.”

AFGE Council 216 President Rachel Shonfield and Feige said that due to the pandemic, an internal safety grievance and the FLRA’s investigation, only some of the office moves actually occurred, and the union steward ultimately has not yet been evicted.

Feige said that the effort to kick a union official out of an office specifically guaranteed by a memorandum of understanding is just the latest in a years-long campaign of “coercion” against union activity at the Tampa field office.

“100% of our union stewards in that office have been subjected to negative employment action recently, including some currently,” he said. “The Tampa field office management has gone out of their way to attack the union, be it through bargaining or lack of bargaining, or by sending a chilling effect by attacking union officers or stewards, removing them from their offices or through threats of discipline.”

In a statement, EEOC spokesman Victor Chen declined to comment on the specific allegations against the Tampa field office, except to say the agency is “reviewing” the FLRA complaint. FLRA has scheduled a trial before an administrative judge for November.

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