EPA Union History

A History of the Environmental Protection Agency Professionals' Union

Search results: "fluoridation"

Comparison of HFSA and NaF as fluoridating agents

Hirzy was principal author in 2013 of a paper titled “Comparison of hydrofluorosilicic acid and pharmaceutical sodium fluoride,” published in Environmental Science and Policy 29 (2013) 81-86. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2013.01.007, which required a correction that is discussed below. The correction is in Environmental Science and Policy 38 (2014) 282-284. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2013.11.002.

The basic error in the first paper arose from not considering the lifetime costs of the two chemicals along with the life time cancer cases in the exposed population caused by the arsenic in HFSA, and was corrected in the second paper most simply by using annual costs of both the cancer cases and the chemicals.

The second paper goes on to show that on an annual basis the number of excess cancer cases associated with the arsenic levels in HFSA reported by the CDC’s National Fluoridation Engineer is about 26, with a total cost advantage for HFSA of $6.2 million. This means avoiding each of those 26 cancer cases would cost society $240,000.

The paper also shows that arsenic at the level permitted by the NSF/ANSI Standard 60 (380 mg/kg HFSA) would result in about 59 excess cancer cases annually, and use of pharmaceutical NaF instead would save society over $100 million annually.

And the break even level of cancer cases and HFSA arsenic level would be reached at a significantly lower NSF/NASI Standard of 180 mg As/kg HFSA.

Further, it has been shown that blood-lead levels in children exposed to HFSA containing water are higher than those not so exposed. So social costs associated with the higher children’s blood-lead levels need to be considered along with lung and bladder cancer cases associated with use of HFSA.

The second paper notes that if all 118 million people now exposed to HFSA would prefer to continue having fluoridated drinking water – at a rate of 2 liters/day, municipal governments could supply such water with 0.5 mg F added via pharmaceutical NaF, at a nation-wide cost of about $600,000.

The phosphate industry, however, would have to find a way to dispose of ~250,000 tons of waste HFSA other that selling it to municipal water authorities and having cities then send 98% of that purchased material flowing back into the environment via waste water treatment plants.

 

Significant Related Documents

Here are links to documents related to the union’s fight with management that resulted in its winning office space, equipment, and four full time positions for the President, Chief Steward, Senior Vice-President and President-Elect (this position title was changed to Executive Vice-President in an amendment to the Union’s By-Laws). These include the Agreement with management over these subjects, the Negotiability Appeal and Decision, the OSS “Help’ letter and representative response letters – from citizens, to and from management, and to and from Members of Congress.

First is a letter to Federal Labor Relations Authority appeals judge Nossman re: denial of an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed against EPA for libelously claiming the union sought official time for expert witness testimony. It shows the intensity of the conflict.OT ULP denial appeal

This has two letters: One from Grizzle to Sen. Brock Adams asserting that the union wants to use official time to represent the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation (NYSCOF), and one from NYSCOF debunking Grizzle’s assertion.Grizzle Adams NYSCOF

Next are memoranda covering the union’s concern about the scientific validity of EPA’s drinking water standards for fluoride, and letters to and from a citizen and Senator John Seymour and from Grizzle to Seymour.fluoride related Grizzlecitizen Congress Grizzle

Now a citizens’ response via petition dealing with toxic carpet and citizens with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity petition letter to Congress This is followed by a letter from a citizen to Congress, and responses from the Congressman.citizen Congress letters1 and a sample letter from the union to several Members of CongressUnion letter to Congress.  

Here is a letter to Congressman Mike Synar, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Committee on Government Operations that deals with a year’s worth of struggle with management over the toxic carpet issue, followed by a Request for Information on carpet purchases and installation at EPA HQ.Letter to Synar re carpet  Note in the following that management did not respond to requests 9, 10 and 11. Number 10 asked for copies of correspondence between EPA and the carpet manufacturer. One has to wonder if  the whole idea of  denying the TSCA petition and setting up the Carpet Policy dialogue instead, which could be run so as to keep industry happy, was prearranged.Info request re carpet

Here is a representative piece of strategy planning for OSS OSS planning and a piece by columnists Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta in the Washington Post about the union struggle with management.Wash Post on OSS

Next are another copy of the union’s appeal for help, a.k.a. the “OSS” letter, followed by a sample of the many letters to Administrator Reilly copied to the union. (A few lack their second page.) Note the cc’s to Members of Congress. Responding to letters from Members of Congress with detailed answers to questions posed by the Members is not a cut-and-dried exercise. Great pressure was thus brought to bear on the union’s behalf.      OSS ltr and citizens 2 EPA

And finally the Negotiability Appeal and the FLRA Decision on the Appeal upholding the union’s right to bargain over the uses claimed, followed by the Agreement between the union and EPA on Official Time.Negotiability Appeal Negotiability Decision Signed Official Time Agreement

Summary History Through 1999

Introduction What follows is a largely chronological narrative of the development and accomplishments of our union. The final section of the narrative is titled “Our Philosophy of Civil Service. That section explains how the various “non-traditional” actions of this labor union, which are depicted in earlier sections, fit together in a coherent pattern consistent with that philosophy. The reader should understand, however, that the union did not have a “Philosophy of Civil Service” document at its inception, all neatly thought out and rationalized, ready to use as our fundamental guide to action. Rather, the philosophy developed and evolved in the heat of the battles recounted here.

What we did have as our early guide was a vision and a belief. We believed that to be able to perform our work in support of EPA’s mission in an open, ethical and public-spirited environment was a basic working conditions issue for which we would take risks and fight. We had a vision of EPA workers coming together in a democratic organization and interacting with management, Congress and the public in ways that enhanced EPA workers’ job satisfaction and the Agency’s ability to accomplish its mission.

The National Treasury Employees Union uses as an organizing concept the idea that all Federal employees should be treated with dignity and respect. In retrospect, this organizing concept summarizes our early vision and belief very well.

Organizing the Union In 1981, with the advent of an Administration expected to be hostile to both labor and environmental regulation, a group of us worried EPA professional employees came together and started talking organization. Concerned toxicologists, chemists, biologists, attorneys and other environmental professionals looked in alarm at impending changes at EPA – an Administrator, Anne Gorsuch, who had never supervised more than a couple of dozen employees in a Colorado telephone company and senior officials who were on record opposing the Agency’s mission.

Many of us had backgrounds in environmental, political, and labor activism. We quickly concurred that EPA’s ability and future willingness to accomplish the mission Congress had set before it was in danger, and that EPA workers of all kinds were likely to be put on the street. We took it as our responsibility to protect EPA’s work force and mission as best we could under the circumstances. What could we do to maintain professional standards and jobs and environmental protection?

We considered forming a professional association. Such a group could promote professionalism by sponsoring seminars and encouraging publication of scientific papers, be a focal point for contacts with outside allies, and serve as a support group for workers threatened in one way or another by the new management team.

With some research we soon found what a professional association could not do. It could not compel management to recognize such a group formally as the representative of EPA professionals, nor to bargain over working conditions, nor to negotiate a grievance process. It could not force arbitration to resolve disputes, nor get official time (i.e. time off from work duties), facilities or services from EPA to do anything at all. A labor union, however, could do all of these things, and we decided to organize a union.

Some years before, EPA professionals had voted against joining a union when other EPA Headquarters workers organized American Federation of Government Employees Local 3331. Though we weren’t part of Local 3331’s bargaining unit, many of us professionals with family or other links to organized labor had joined that union anyway. Many of the professional workers who led the drive to create the professional’s union came out of Local 3331’s ranks as members or officers.

With which national union, if any, we should affiliate was an important question. We planned to be a union with both traditional and non-traditional aims. We wanted freedom to pursue goals that were outside the traditional labor union scope – professional ethics and professional development, encouraging sound science for EPA policy decisions, etc. We also would be competing with defense-related programs for federal resources, so we were strongly attracted to the National Treasury Employees Union, which did not represent Defense Department employees. But NTEU was highly centralized, and we thought our need for autonomy would clash with that union’s method of operation. Nor did we want to be the “little brother” to an already existing union at EPA Headquarters, AFGE Local 3331. After considering our options, we decided that the National Federation of Federal Employees would provide the freedom we desired and that we could live within a national union that included Defense employees.

In 1983, Local 2050 of the National Federation of Federal Employees was chartered as the professionals’ union at EPA Headquarters. In 1984 we petitioned for a representational election, and by a 90 percent majority Local 2050 was elected by the professional bargaining unit members to be their exclusive representative. (Our switch to affiliation with NTEU is covered below.) It wasn’t long before the first test of our commitment to EPA’s mission came along. It involved asbestos.

The Asbestos Regulations Battle By mid-1984, EPA’s decade-long effort to regulate asbestos risks had culminated in a draft Rule under section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Rule, that would ban several big uses of asbestos and require a phase-down of asbestos mining and imports, cleared all levels of EPA review, including review by the General Counsel who opined that TSCA section 6 was the appropriate authority for controlling asbestos risks and that section 9 of TSCA, which might have required EPA to let the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) handle the job, did not apply in this case.

The asbestos Ban/Phasedown Rule went to the Office of Management and Budget for clearance in the late summer of 1984, and disappeared into a Black Hole. It re-emerged in February 1985 at a press conference called by EPA’s new Acting Administrator, Jim Barnes (Bill Ruckelshaus having presciently resigned just days before) and the General Counsel, Gerald Yamada. These officials told an incredulous audience that included a Local 2050 Vice-President, that EPA had suddenly discovered that TSCA section 9, after all, did require EPA to withdraw its proposed Ban/Phasedown Rule and instead let OSHA and CPSC try to control asbestos risks.

The Branch Chief whose organization had written the Ban/Phasedown Rule and invested years of work that included consultaion with OSHA and CPSC over which agency’s authority could best control asbestos risks, was outraged by the announcement. He demanded to know what the union was going to do about it.

That evening we contacted Bob Eckhardt, Congressional “father” of TSCA and RCRA, and two days later a letter was on the Administrator’s desk stopping the section 9 referral to OSHA and CPSC and starting an investigation. Congress found that OMB had secretly met with asbestos industry people and had agreed to their demand that EPA’s Ban/Phasedown Rule be killed. EPA was then ordered by the Administration, through OMB, to fabricate the story about TSCA section 9 taking precedence and requiring OSHA and CPSC, rather than EPA, to deal with asbestos.

After issuing a severe public criticism of OMB’s and EPA’s actions, Congress demanded and got a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between EPA and OMB that specified that there would be no future secret meetings between OMB and parties with an interest in proposed EPA Rules and that EPA would be invited to all meetings between OMB and interested parties. The MOU was published in the Federal Register. Local 2050 was justifiably proud of its part in this saga.

Fluoride and Professional Ethics As that battle was raging, another one was in the making. While EPA was engaged in revising its drinking water standard for fluoride in 1985, an employee came to the union with a complaint. He said he was being forced to write into the regulation a statement that offended his sense of professional ethics. The statement was to the effect that EPA thought it was alright for children to have “funky teeth” (as he put it) i.e., severe dental fluorosis. It was OK, EPA said, because that condition was only a cosmetic effect, not an adverse health effect. The reason for this EPA position was that it was under political pressure to set its health-based standard for fluoride at 4 mg/liter. At that level, EPA knew that a significant number of children develop moderate to severe dental fluorosis, but since it had deemed the effect as only cosmetic, EPA didn’t have to set its health-based standard at a lower level to prevent it.

We tried to settle this ethics issue quietly, within the family, but EPA was unable or unwilling to resist external political pressure, and we took the fight public with a union amicus curiae brief in a 1986 lawsuit filed against EPA by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The more union scientists looked into the fluoride issue, the darker it got.

For example, we uncovered a letter from the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water telling a citizen that EPA views the use of hydrofluosilicic acid to fluoridate water supplies as “an ideal solution to a long standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic (sic) acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized. . .” In other words, this stuff that would be considered a pollutant if it got into the air or dumped into a river, is OK as long as it is dumped straight into a drinking water reservoir. The solution to pollution is dilution, according to this official. Thus EPA turns a toxic waste whose disposal would cost the fertilizer industry many millions of dollars into a pure profit item for industry worth many millions of dollars.

In May, 1992, EPA fired the Office of Drinking Water’s chief toxicologist, who also was our local union’s Treasurer at the time, for refusing to remain silent on the fluoride cancer risk issue. This occurred following publication in 1991 of a National Toxicology Program bioassay of sodium fluoride that showed male rats got bone cancer after dosing with fluoride at levels only about one hundred-fold greater than the public receives. The judge who heard the lawsuit brought against EPA over the firing made the finding that EPA fired the toxicologist over his fluoride work, and not for the phony reason put forward by EPA management at his dismissal. He won his lawsuit and was put back on the payroll at EPA in 1994, with back pay and a $50,000 damage award, but only after the Agency was forced to do so by the Secretary of Labor and public embarrassment.

In 1997, the union was asked to write a support letter, outlining our past involvement with the fluoride issue, for Dr. Phyllis Mullenix, a neurotoxicologist, who was suing her former employer for firing her because she published a paper on the neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride. This we did. That letter came to the attention of some California citizens. They then asked the union to endorse the Californians For Safe Drinking Water ballot initiative aiming to keep fluoride out of that State’s water supplies. Before calling for a vote of its members on this request, the union arranged a seminar by Prof. Paul Connett of St. Lawrence University and Dr. Bob Carton, our former Local President, covering toxicity data published in the mid and late 1990’s. Based on the seminar and the preponderance of other adverse information on fluoride of which we had become aware since 1985, we voted unanimously to endorse the California initiative.

We published a White Paper in May 1999 on the subject of fluoride toxicity and water fluoridation that is now on the Internet. Two scientists from the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, who happen also to be union officers, sent a memo to EPA’s Children’s Health Protection work group on neurotoxicity hazards that could be experienced by children from fluoride, based on recent studies (never receiving the courtesy of an acknowledgment of that memo). We have asked EPA to supply non-fluoridated water to its Headquarters employees, and we have been responding to inquiries from the public, press and government officials who want to know about the union’s stand on this issue.

Toxic Carpet and Indoor Air Quality

In July 1987, after putting up with years of poor indoor air quality in EPA work spaces, the union negotiated a landmark Clean Air Agreement with EPA. The agreement, since copied by many other federal unions, called for limiting sources of indoor air pollution and for controlling related risks. Within months of the agreement’s signing, hundreds of EPA employees were made sick by new carpet installed in Headquarters buildings. Scores acquired Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a disease in which people become increasingly sensitive to lower and lower levels of an increasing variety of chemicals, experiencing a range of respiratory, neurologic, and other impairments In July 1987, after putting up with years of poor indoor air quality in EPA work spaces, the union negotiated a landmark Clean Air Agreement with EPA. The agreement, since copied by many other federal unions, called for limiting sources of indoor air pollution and for controlling related risks. Within months of the agreement’s signing, hundreds of EPA employees were made sick by new carpet installed in Headquarters buildings. Scores acquired Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a disease in which people become increasingly sensitive to lower and lower levels of an increasing variety of chemicals, experiencing a range of respiratory, neurologic, and other impairments. Eventually, some found it virtually impossible to function in many environments. This happened to EPA employees who had no previous significant health problems of any kind.

The Director of EPA’s Health and Safety Division, David Weitzman, admitted in a September 1989 Washington Times article that “The freshly manufactured carpet clearly caused the initial illness.” That was something the union had pointed out and had begun to take action on as soon as employees started getting sick, almost two years prior to Weitzman’s admission. During those two years of struggle, EPA continued to pretend that it couldn’t say for sure what had caused the problems, admitting to the union President, however, that the reason for playing dumb was to “avoid getting involved in lawsuits.” EPA also downplayed the occurrence of MCS among its employees, claiming that these employees only thought they were getting sick from carpet emissions. During that two year period, as the union made its fight over toxic carpet a matter of public record through various national and international media and the Congress, it received hundreds of phone calls and letters from citizens reporting similar incidents in their homes, work places and children’s schools. Many of these included heart-rending reports of induction of MCS, mimicking EPA employees’ experience.

Within six months of the first employee illnesses, union scientists had developed an investigative and risk control strategy to deal with bad quality carpet and tried to get EPA to use it, but with no perceptible success. EPA fobbed off the major part of the task to CPSC, which in turn developed its own “investigative” process. The union President happened to be the Senior Scientist in the EPA Branch that was working with CPSC on the project. When he found that only $5000 had been allotted by the U.S. Government to conduct a nationwide investigation of citizens’ reports of carpet toxicity, and that EPA refused to use data it had collected on sick employees and emissions from the carpet out of fear of involevement in lawsuits, he wrote a memo to his boss decrying those ethical failures. It was apparent that EPA and CPSC were far more interested in causing no inconvenience to the carpet industry than in protecting the public from harm caused by bad product.

So the union took unique action – in January 1990 it filed a citizens’ petition under TSCA section 21 asking EPA to take specific regulatory actions to protect the public from the kind of injuries its own employees had suffered in their EPA offices. Here was a group of EPA scientists, whose jobs included assessing hazards, exposures and risks from toxic chemicals, writing a detailed justification and plan for EPA action to control risks from carpet emissions and compelling a response.

EPA declined to take on the carpet industry (and also probably the then-extant White House Council On Competitiveness) by granting any of the relief sought in the union’s petition. An EPA official came to the union President’s office in April 1990 and told him that if it were to grant the relief, “It could cost the carpet industry billions of dollars.” The reason for that being that if EPA were to make the finding of “unreasonable risk” that was necessary for EPA to take action, tort claims against carpet manufacturers would quickly flood the court system.

So, instead of making the “unreasonable risk” finding and granting the relief, EPA proposed creating a “Carpet Policy Dialogue,” which was to be charged with investigating carpet emissions and ways of controlling them. EPA invited the union to sit as a member of the Dialogue panel with about 25 other entities that included the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), chemical companies, other Federal agencies, and independent experts. The Dialogue, begun in August 1990, proved in the end to be just another smoke screen for the carpet industry, and EPA abandoned the charge to the Dialogue to look for ways to control emissions. The carpet industry morphed the Dialogue into a marketing gimmick by mid 1992, eventually developing out of it what the industry called its “Green Tag” program.

The “Green Tag” program required carpet manufacturers to test one square foot of a carpet type per year for total emissions. If that single, one square foot sample passed the test, the entire year’s run of that carpet type was entitled to a “Green Tag”, which CRI said would, “tell consumers that the carpet or rug they buy meets the predetermined indoor air quality testing criteria.” Anyone with a modicum of experience in quality control could see that testing a one square foot sample, once a year, could not possibly be an adequate method of assuring product quality, as claimed by CRI. The union filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in September 1992 over that CRI program, and in Congress there were subsequent demands that CRI abandon this advertising campaign.

In a September 1996 Louisiana tort action, the judge awarded $4.2 million to a consumer injured by carpet emissions who relied on television advertisements, that the Court found, “. . .do lead the viewer to believe. . .” that the carpet is warranted as safe.

As injuries to employees became evident, the union engaged management and the Department of Labor in several ways. We got a briefing on Workmen’s Compensation processes for Headquarters employees and sought assistance from OSHA (who found, not surprisingly, that no existing indoor air quality standards were being violated at EPA). We got management to stop installing any more of the toxic carpet, and eventually to sign an agreement not to use any carpet containing styrene-butadiene (SB) latex at Headquarters and to remove all such carpet that had been installed. We won the right for employees to vote on what kind of new floor coverings they wanted in their work space and we conducted elections in many work units on this question. We got the four part health and environmental quality study run and results published. We fought back management’s contentions that employees were not physically sick from carpet emissions, and we testified several times before Congress on the carpet problem and on indoor air quality in general, supporting an Administration plea for $8 million to improve air quality here.

The union worked with several law firms who were candidates to help injured employees seek redress that was slow or not forthcoming through other avenues. When EPA employees acquired MCS from the air quality at EPA, the union pushed management into allowing them to work at alternative locations, including their homes, as a last resort. A collective bargaining agreement was reached on the subject, and is now in effect.

Flammable Aerosol Propellents Flammable Aerosol Propellents In 1978 EPA banned the use of chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) propellents for use in aerosol pesticides. Similar bans were also placed upon other consumer product aerosols by CPSC and FDA. Nonflammable CFCs were soon replaced by aerosol propellants containing extremely flammable hydrocarbons such as propane and butane. At that time a scientist in the pesticide Registration Division discovered a loophole in pesticide regulations that allowed these flammable/explosive products to be sold without any warnings. Initial memos from the scientist outlining this lapse in protection of the public were ignored by management. As his memos escalated, management opined that although there was “potential,” no explosions or fires were actually occurring. The scientist then produced hundreds of news-clippings and reports of fires/explosions from CPSC, but management still insisted the problem was not pervasive enough to warrant a flammability warning.

The scientist contacted our union and the New York City Fire Department, which had documented a large number of fires from insecticide foggers. In 1987, nearly 10 years after the discovery of the loophole, a notice was prepared requiring warnings on all propane/butane containing pesticide products. The notice was withdrawn by EPA that same year, with the understanding that industry would work with EPA to develop appropriate language. Meanwhile, with the intent of firing the whistle-blowing scientist for non-performance, management reassigned him to a different job in a discipline in which he had no training. His requests for training were all refused, including free training at USDA, based upon a phony excuse of no training funds. After two years of grievances and a whistle-blower case with the Office of Special Council, the scientist settled with the Agency, and in the meantime had become a full time officer with the Union. Twenty one years after its discovery by this scientist, the loophole was finally closed, but only in regard to total release insecticide foggers..

Asbestos in Our Workplace Ceiling tiles in the Crystal Mall II Building were found in 1990 to contain asbestos, and so were targeted for removal. But the technology used for the removal was untried, and failed, severely contaminating the Office of Pesticide Programs work spaces in that building. Measurements showed contamination so high that had it occurred in a school, the school would have been closed. Union leaders appeared on local television to publicize the problem, and a rally attended by 500 EPA, Navy and Patent Office employees who worked in the building resulted in a petition being signed by hundreds of employees and managers demanding a proper clean-up. Throughout, EPA management contended that the clean-up was “safe”. The union engaged Congressman James Moran’s help in pressuring EPA to take effective action. Eventually the responsible Assistant Administrator, Charles Grizzle resigned (see below), the Health and Safety Division hired an industrial hygienist experienced in coal mine air quality safety issues, and EPA cleaned up the mess.

EPA Attempts to Bust the Union In 1987 Charles Grizzle became Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management. October of that year saw the first installation of toxic carpet, with all the consequences of that action, including the union’s attempts to protect the public as well as EPA employees from that hazard. The union had been negotiating over a code of professional ethics since the fluoride fight had started some time previously, and by the Spring of 1988 we were nearing agreement (see below in Collective Bargaining). When the union asserted its right under the Clean Air Agreement to be involved in the investigation and remediation of the carpet crisis, and the implications of EPA union scientists doing so under an ethical mandate codified by another collective bargaining agreement became apparent to OARM, Mr. Grizzle ordered a halt to further talks on ethics. In 1987 Charles Grizzle became Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management. October of that year saw the first installation of toxic carpet, with all the consequences of that action, including the union’s attempts to protect the public as well as EPA employees from that hazard. The union had been negotiating over a code of professional ethics since the fluoride fight had started some time previously, and by the Spring of 1988 we were nearing agreement (see below in Collective Bargaining). When the union asserted its right under the Clean Air Agreement to be involved in the investigation and remediation of the carpet crisis, and the implications of EPA union scientists doing so under an ethical mandate codified by another collective bargaining agreement became apparent to OARM, Mr. Grizzle ordered a halt to further talks on ethics.

An open war appeared inevitable between the union, which demanded that workers be able to do environmental protection work in an ethical work place, and an Administration bent on frustrating that goal.

As the turbulent events of the carpet crisis unfolded, the union had five virtually full time officers at work, plus others of the officer corps devoting a major fraction of their time to the issue. When the Carpet Policy Dialogue began to take the larger part of the union President’s time, and the needs of injured employees were at a peak, and the Crystal Mall asbestos contamination bruhaha was in full flower, the union requested bargaining on a new arrangement for official time for union officers.

Up to that time, time allotted by management for union work had been on a “reasonable time” basis. Based on the then current work load and precedent at other NFFE Locals, the union wanted six full time positions. Mr. Grizzle offered work hours equivalent to less than 0.75 of a person-year and the war between him – as EPA management – and the union began in earnest.

A reign of terror was brought against the Union, reaching its peak in 1991-2. The President was reassigned to work for which he was not trained (see above Flammable Aerosol Propellants). The Senior Vice President was threatened with criminal charges for his work on the Carpet Policy Dialogue. The Treasurer was fired . Union-filed grievances were routinely ignored, and in the home branch of the President, every single union member was under some sort of harassment or trumped up disciplinary action.

The union fought back. We sent letters to everyone who had ever contacted us for help or advice or information on how we had handled indoor air quality problems, toxic carpet injuries, pesticide problems, and the fluoride ethics battle. The union asked people across America to write to their Congressional delegations, to Administrator Thomas and to Assistant Administrator Grizzle. We asked citizens to have their Congressional delegations in turn write to Administrator Thomas and Assistant Administrator Grizzle. We asked that they contact their friends and environmental network allies to do the same. We wanted all these citizens, who had experienced the union’s members actually doing first hand work on their behalf, to inquire of Congress and the Administration why Mr. Grizzle wanted to kill the union. Hundreds of letters resulted, flooding the West Tower and requiring answers.

Within a few months Mr. Grizzle had resigned, and his successor, Christian Holmes, declared his belief in the sanctity of good science and ethics at EPA as well as good labor relations. In 1992, the union got a new official time agreement granting four full-time positions plus 2000 hours for other stewarding work. Included in the agreement was a provision, sanctioned by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, specifically authorizing the union to use official time to communicate with the public and media on terms and conditions of employment – a first in Federal sector labor history. The war between the union and management was over.

Collective Bargaining NFFE Local 2050 signed its first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with EPA on November 13, 1986. The contract was unique in creating, before its time, a Labor-Management Committee (LMC) that met once a week to solve employee problems through dialogue and cooperation whenever possible. Before union-initiated mid-term bargaining became the rule, we were practicing it here. Before Alternative Dispute Resolution became a buzz word around town, we were doing it here. It was through the LMC that the Indoor Air Quality Agreement referenced above was negotiated, The LMC was the venue for negotiating alternative work space for employees who acquired MCS during the carpet crisis, for negotiating establishment of a child care facility at EPA Headquarters, for negotiating changes in smoking policy, for establishing compressed work week and flextime programs, a pilot Flexiplace program, and the Transit Subsidy program at Headquarters. NFFE Local 2050 signed its first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with EPA on November 13, 1986. The contract was unique in creating, before its time, a Labor-Management Committee (LMC) that met once a week to solve employee problems through dialogue and cooperation whenever possible. Before union-initiated mid-term bargaining became the rule, we were practicing it here. Before Alternative Dispute Resolution became a buzz word around town, we were doing it here. It was through the LMC that the Indoor Air Quality Agreement referenced above was negotiated, The LMC was the venue for negotiating alternative work space for employees who acquired MCS during the carpet crisis, for negotiating establishment of a child care facility at EPA Headquarters, for negotiating changes in smoking policy, for establishing compressed work week and flextime programs, a pilot Flexiplace program, and the Transit Subsidy program at Headquarters.

The 1986 CBA was “rolled over” annually, along with the various addenda Agreements mentioned above, and it remained in effect until another master CBA was negotiated in 1996. That agreement ran for one year, and a completely new CBA that incorporated the addenda Agreements and several new Articles took effect in July 1997. That CBA will lapse in 2000.

Our first contract lacked a reduction-in-force (RIF) process. When the budget crisis of 1995-6 loomed, all EPA unions, even those with extant RIF provisions in their CBAs, met in Boston for a marathon twelve day, fourteen hours per day negotiating session to put EPA, its unions and employees in position to deal as humanely as possible with RIFs that looked imminent. Fortunately, through many peoples’ efforts, including union lobbying of Congress and public outreach, we were able to stave off RIFs. The unions worked with management to put an early retirement and buy-out program together that was partly responsible for obviating RIFs. We also fought hard to retain the transit subsidy program at Headquarters during this time, though we did agree to a temporary suspension of the program for a brief period in late 1995 at the height of the budget/government shutdown crisis that year.

During 1997 and through 1998, we, along with other EPA unions, negotiated changes in the Agency’s performance management system as it underwent metamorphosis from the five-level to the so called pass/fail system. We held open meetings and solicited input from the bargaining unit on how to proceed. Eventually, once the new two-level system was in place, we participated in training sessions and we then negotiated the right for employees, through their unions, to have an active role in the awards nomination and evaluation processes that had radically changed under the new two-level system.

One of the new Articles in the 1997 CBA was titled “Professionalism.” That Article was our first success in getting any sort of professional ethics element into our CBA with the Agency. Not that we hadn’t tried earlier. In 1988, as the toxic carpet crisis beginning to heat up, we had reached “Draft No.13” of a code of professional ethics across the bargaining table. But once the full impact of the carpet crisis became apparent to management, we were told that management would engage in no further bargaining on the matter (see above). The issue remained dormant until the 1996 Agreement was up for re-negotiation, when we put it back on the table. While the “Professionalism” Article is a good start, we have a way to go before a true code of professional ethics is in place at EPA. The Agency’s National Partnership Council has taken on the job, and progress is being made.

Executive Order 12871 and Partnership In October 1993, President Clinton signed E.O. 12871, that directed Executive Branch agencies to form partnerships with their labor unions to promote more efficient government and instructed management to bargain over methods, means and technology of doing work and over the number, types and grades of employees assigned to any work unit or tour of duty. This development got mixed responses from EPA managers. Some managers, especially those who already recognized the benefits of working closely with the unions, took steps to comply with the President’s order. Others, some would say in true EPA fashion, ignored the President’s order. By early 1994 the Labor Relations Office had begun to try to implement the Order and institute partnership councils (PC) as called for in the E.O.

At the national level, a PC was constituted from all the local labor unions that represent employees throughout the Agency along with their local corresponding management “partners.” This 40+ member group came to be thought of, at least by the union representatives, as “the herd of cats,” because of the virtual impossibility of getting anything accomplished through consensus in such an unwieldy group After three years of wheel-spinning, and with the arrival of Romulo Diaz as the new Assistant Administrator for OARM in charge of Partnership, things began to change. Under Romy Diaz’s leadership, in December 1998 the National Partnership Council reconstituted itself, and created an Executive Board consisting of five senior managers and representatives from the five national unions that represent EPA employees.

This ten-member Board was empowered to carry out the NPC’s business throughout the year, based on an agenda set by the full Herd of Cats that meets each December. In 1999 the NPC-EB undertook creation of a pilot alternative dispute resolution program and a code of professional ethics. Progress has been made on both fronts (see above issues re: ethics connections). Consistency in labor relations regarding overtime policy has been another accomplishment, and a program for improving the promotion potential of mid-career employees has also been started and has made some progress.

In the budget crisis of 1999 and its consequent hiring freeze, the five labor members of the NPC-EB have been involved with a senior management team in developing recommendations for the Administrator for dealing with hiring freeze aspects of the crisis.

Here at Headquarters, the HQPC has existed for five years. One of the major accomplishments of the HQPC has been an agreement among management, AFGE 3331 and our union simplifying the management and processing of requests of employees to work at alternate sites because of difficulties the employee may have with indoor air quality in their regular work station. We have also begun to dig into problems with movement of most of EPA to the Federal Triangle location, such as changes in child care and shuttle services.

One of the jewels in the union crown was acquired through the negotiation of an agreement under E.O. 12871 between the union and the Office of Pesticide Programs. That agreement codifies OPP’s commitment to appoint a Senior Scientist, at the GS-14 or 15 level in each present and future Branch and Division in which a majority of the staff is classified as physical or biological scientists. Additionally, based on the union’s continuing commitment to the good health and fitness of EPA’s employees, NTEU 280 negotiated with OPP for a new Fitness Center and Health Unit on the third floor of Crystal Mall #2. These new facilities were opened in October 1999.

Another important outcome of partnership at Headquarters was the more meaningful engagement of the unions with management during reorganizations than had been the case in earlier times. One of the major accomplishments of this engagement was negotiating a process for employees to select the work unit, i.e. Branch and Division, in which they would work following reorganization. Processes for this employee self-placement were developed and used during the creation of the new Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and during major reorganizations in the Office of Policy, the Office of Pesticide Programs, the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics and the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. In most of these instances, over 90 percent of employees were placed in work units they themselves had selected, and provision for adjustments of any mismatches were also features of these negotiated processes..

A Partnership Council was established in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in 1997, and we look forward to establishing similar PCs throughout Headquarters.

From NFFE through EECO to NTEU Local 2050 and its leaders made many friends among NFFE’s National leadership and staff. Charlie Bernhardt, on the legal staff at NFFE did outstanding work for the Local on several crucial negotiation appeals (on security issues and official time). President (the late) Jim Peirce was a staunch supporter during our indoor air crisis and our fight for sufficient official time to carry out representational duties. Secretary-Treasurer and later Historian, Abe Orlofsky was always ready with helpful guidance and needed information. General Counsel Steve Gordon kept us out of hot water on more than one occasion. NFFE National, true to its word, gave us great latitude and support as we broke new ground as a federal labor union for professional scientists, engineers, and lawyers.

But then Jim Peirce retired after fourteen years as President, and fierce in-fighting among would-be successors broke out. Every NFFE National President elected from 1990 on was subjected to internecine warfare that included election challenges before the Labor Department, and/or charges brought before the National Executive Council. Financial crises multiplied and the National Federation of Federal Employees began to eat itself alive. The National’s leadership also began to interfere in the operation of the Local.

By 1994, we had had enough and attempted to leave NFFE to form an independent, environment-oriented union, Environmental Employees Collectively Organized (EECO). But before we could carry out the necessary procedures in September 1994, NFFE put the Local into trusteeship. The elected officers were removed and replaced by an employee appointed by NFFE. That arrangement proved unsatisfactory to the EPA employee population, and eventually to NFFE itself, as the budget crisis of 1995 appeared on the horizon. NFFE National then restored the removed officers to office while maintaining the trusteeship, which ended in the Spring of 1996, as the budget scare came to an end.

Our action in attempting to secede from NFFE set legal precedent with the Federal Labor Relations Authority which has been useful in subsequent affiliation change actions, including our own and other EPA NFFE Locals’ switch to NTEU (see below).

In the NFFE convention of September 1996, Jim Cunningham was elected National President along with a “reform” slate of (almost all) new National Vice-Presidents pledged to end the downward spiral of NFFE’s fortunes and leadership. Jim promised that if he couldn’t get the union straightened out and stop the internal hemorrhaging he would not stand in the way of any Local that wanted out. The pledge taken by the new NFFE National Vice-Presidents to stop in-fighting lasted less than two months. When it resumed, we started looking once more to get out.

We were wooed by several other major national unions, but NTEU’s stability and reputation as a law firm masquerading as a labor union won our hearts and minds. In February 1998, using lessons learned from our earlier experience, we voted to change affiliation from NFFE to NTEU. In April that year the Federal Labor Relations Authority granted our petition to become NTEU Chapter 280. Simultaneously, NFFE Locals in Region 4 and Cincinnati switched to NTEU, becoming NTEU Chapters 281 and 279, respectively.

Public Recognition. The union and its officers have received attention in local, national and international print and broadcast media for activities benefitting its members and the public. Our work on flammable pesticide aerosols, asbestos, indoor air quality, toxic carpet, and fluoride risks has been recognized by the media, professional societies, public interest organizations and government officials. The union and its officers have received attention in local, national and international print and broadcast media for activities benefitting its members and the public. Our work on flammable pesticide aerosols, asbestos, indoor air quality, toxic carpet, and fluoride risks has been recognized by the media, professional societies, public interest organizations and government officials.

Our Philosophy of Civil Service

When the Asbestos Ban/Phasedown Rule fight ended, Deputy Administrator Jim Barnes met with employees who had worked on the Rule to explain what had happened between EPA and OMB. OMB had ordered EPA to withdraw the TSCA section 6 Rule and, under section 9, give OSHA and CPSC the job of controlling asbestos risks, even though EPA staff and senior management, and representatives of OSHA and CPSC had all concurred that only EPA’s statutory authority could adequately control those risks. Barnes was asked what a lawyer’s ethical duty is in cases like that. His answer helped the union develop is philosophy of civil service, especially regarding civil service scientists.

He said that it is a lawyer’s duty to get his client where the client wants to go without violating the law, and in this case the client was the President of the United States, acting through OMB. It is arguable whether such an order from the President through OMB violated the law, but in any event, Barnes did as he was ordered (then personally took the heat when he obfuscated about it at the press conference).

Scientists have no clients. They ask Mother Nature questions and try to make sense of the answers she gives. They publish the results so that other scientists can check to see if their questions made sense and if their interpretation of Mother Nature’s answers are reasonable. By this process, known as the Scientific Method, humankind gains better and better understanding of how nature works. The scientist’s ethical mandate is to tell the truth as clearly as it is known. In theory, governments use the understanding gained by civil service scientists using this process to benefit the governed.

Since EPA is a science-based regulatory agency, we have two cultures to deal with in our work place – the lawyers’ and the scientists’, each with a unique ethical mandate. The union has striven to make it possible for both cultures to comply with their ethical mandates. It was a lawyer Branch Chief who had worked years on the Asbestos Rule who stormed into the union office after the press conference demanding that the union take action. His sense of ethics was outraged, just as was the scientist’s who came to us complaining about EPA’s defining severe dental fluorosis as merely a cosmetic effect.

That definition was without doubt the lawyer culture’s contribution to getting EPA where it wanted to go without violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. But the definition offended the science culture by being ridiculous on its face – even the National Academy of Sciences, which for years has been a “good soldier” in the government’s propaganda campaign to de-toxify fluoride, has said that dental fluorosis severe enough to affect food choices is clearly an adverse health effect.

As the union engaged EPA management on the issues of asbestos, toxic carpet and indoor air, fluoride, flammable pesticide aerosols, etc. some people, especially some EPA managers, charged that we were just disgruntled over the policy choices made by EPA management or other government entities, that we were trying to set environmental policy ourselves, and that we should keep our nose out of their business. Thus arose their attempts to break us. That criticism must be, and has been, addressed, in a publication by one of our former Presidents in Environmental Law Reporter XX 10057-10060 (Feb. 1990). Our answer is given again here, and it is simple.

We recognize that our form of government gives Congress and the President, respectively, the right and duty to make and faithfully execute laws, and it gives the courts the duty and right to interpret those laws. As professional civil service staff, our role is to advise the constitutionally mandated Branches in matters of our professional competence. Those Branches can take our advice or not, as they choose. This is the essence of the oath we take upon entering the Civil Service to suppport and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It is the same oath some of us took upon entering the military service.

Most directly, our advice goes to EPA management, the Executive Branch officials who supervise our work. Our advice can also be delivered to Congress and the courts, as we have reported above having done. But our duty and rights as citizens and as civil servants do not end there.

We have a duty and a right to perform our work in an ethical environment, and to see that our work is not distorted, misrepresented, stolen or lied about in devising false cover for Agency policies. We believe that in order for our constitutional form of government to function we must take and defend this position on ethics, and assure that our advice is also accessible by those who pay our salaries and who are the ultimate defenders of our form of government, the American people. The people must be able to access the information necessary to decide whether the government is acting as their servant or their master. The people must be able to learn whether government decisions are being made for their benefit or the benefit of other interests. Taking action to protect the ethical environment of our work place and to see that the people can make these informed judgements is the center piece of our philosophy of civil service.

So when EPA gets secret orders from OMB to kill rules to protect the public from asbestos risks and then lies about it at a press conference – we take action.

And when EPA holds data on carpet emissions that cause its own employees to get sick and then lies about it for the hidden reason that government cares more about protecting an industry than about protecting the public – we take action.

And when EPA maintains that propane isn’t flammable, leading to property damage and injuries and erroneous arrests on arson charges of un-warned people who use aerosol bombs (literally) in their homes – we take action.

And when EPA proclaims that children’s teeth that are brown, cracked, chipped, and pitted are only cosmetic defects, and that the only adverse health effect from fluoride overdosing is skeletal fluorosis (or death from swallowing a big dose), and that telling the truth about the carcinogenicity of fluoride is an offense for which an EPA scientist should lose his job, and it does all this to continue the fiction that toxic sludge in drinking water is good for you – we take action.

We recognize that our duty to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” extends to not acquiescing in having our work used for cover in such ethical catastrophes as these. In confronting our consciences, we chose not to rely on the defense that failed at Nuremberg.

It is for these ideals that we organized and for which we have fought and for which we will continue to fight.

ROSTER OF OFFICERS

Those who have served as officers of the union are grouped by office. Following the names of each person is the year in which that person began his or her term in that office. Before 1985, we had not established terms of office under a constitution. Thus, persons elected to office in 1983, immediately after we were chartered by the National federation of Federal Employees, served until the elections held in mid 1985. In 1996, we did away with the office of President-Elect, re-titling that office as Executive Vice-President, and no automatic succession to the office of President was associated with the Executive Vice-President position. All officers served one-year terms in office. Presidents could not succeed themselves. There were no elections in 1995 during our period of trusteeship. The Senior Vice-President is elected by the Executive Board from among the roster of Vice-Presidents.

PRESIDENTS

William Coniglio 1983, 1985, 1987

Robert Carton 1986, 1989

William Hirzy 1988, 1990, 1993

Dwight Welch 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999

Tyrone Aiken 1992

James Murphy 1996, 1998

PRESIDENTS-ELECT (OR EXEC. V.P.)

William Coniglio 1986

Robert Carton 1985, 1988

William Hirzy 1987, 1989, 1992

Dwight Welch 1990, 1993, 1998

Tyrone Aiken 1991

Myra Cypser 1991

CHIEF STEWARDS

Rufus Morison 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992

Marc Turgeon 1986

Eleanor Zimmerman 1988

Hale Vandermer 1989

Steven Spiegel 1993, 1994

Dwight Welch 1996

Patricia Sims 1997

Rosezella Canty-Letsome 1997, 1998, 1999

TREASURERS

William Marcus 1983, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992

Patricia Hilgard 1985

Morris Blumenfeld 1987

Daljit Sawhney 1988, 1989

Bernard Schneider

SECRETARIES

Mark Antell 1983, 1985, 1986

Robert Carton 1987

Francine Ten Eyck 1989

Myra Cypser 1989

Laura Sallman-Smith 1990

James Handley 1991, 1992

Patricia Sims 1993

Richard Emory 1994

Anne Leslie 1996

Julie Simpson 1997, 1998, 1999

SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENTS

William Hirzy 1985, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

Rufus Morison 1986, 1988, 1989

Lois Dicker 1987

Robert Carton 1990, 1991

Dwight Welch 1992, 1994

James Handley 1993

VICE-PRESIDENTS
Doreen Cantor 1983

Norman Whalen 1983

Robert Carton (see above for Senior Vice-President terms) 1983

William Marcus 1985

Lois Dicker 1985, 1986, 1987

Alejandro Arce 1985, 1992, 1994

Donald Rodier 1985

Irvin Mauer 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993

William Hirzy (see above for Senior Vice-President terms) 1986

David Ritter 1986, 1987, 1988

Marc Turgeon 1986, 1987

Salvatore Biscardi 1987, 1989

Krystina Locke 1987

Raymond Locke 1988

James Murphy 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992

Charles Garlow 1988

Dwight Welch (see above for Senior Vice-President terms) 1989

Rufus Morison (see above for Senior Vice-President terms) 1989, 1993

Hale Vandermer 1990

Myra Cypser 1990

Sherry Milan 1990

James Walker 1990, 1991

James Handley (see above for Senior Vice-President term)1994

Elbert Dage 1991, 1992

Bernard Schneider 1992

Otto Gutenson 1993, 1994

Freshteh Toghrol 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

Barbara Pringle 1993

Alex Varela 1993

Eric Jackson 1994

Anne Leslie 1994

Arthur Chiu 1997, 1998, 1999

William Garetz 1997, 1998, 1999

Martha Price 1996, 1997, 1998

Jeff Beaubier 1996, 1997, 1998

James Goodyear 1998

Richard Nalesnik 1999

Linda Martin 1999

Fluoride

Fluoridation with a Hazardous Waste Among the first things that became apparent when we began looking at fluoride was that the source of most of the fluoride going into drinking water was a hazardous waste (as defined in the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act)  product of the phosphate industry. In producing phosphate fertilizers an early step is to heat phosphate ore containing, among other contaminants, lots of silica and fluoride minerals, with sulfuric acid.

How it Forms This releases silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4) and hydrogen fluoride (HF), both gases which are eventually vacuum stripped from the process stream by water scrubbers, producing hydrofluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6, HFSA). Prior to regulations under the Clean Air and Clean Water Act the gases were vented to the atmosphere, and any liquid waste steams discharged to waterways. After regulations, the HFSA was captured as a ~24% w/w solution, then trucked or send via railcars (which required rubber lining to withstand the corrosive nature of HSFA and residual HF) to the nation’s drinking water systems for disposal, hamner_letter, as shown in this letter from Deputy Assistant Administrator of Water Rebecca Hanmer in reply to a citizen inquiry. This practice remains in place as of early 2017.

Money, Money, Money… seems to be a major reason why there is so little interest in Congress or EPA in stopping the addition of HFSA to drinking water supplies.  In 2011, for instance, the U.S. Geological Survey Reported that about 275,000 tons of HFSA was sold for water fluoridation. At $700/ton, a conservative estimate, that amounts to over $190,000,000 in pure profit. That, coupled with avoidance of disposal cost of about $1.50/gallon for hazardous liquid waste yields an economic advantage to industry approaching $300,000,000 per year.

The Hanmer explains why EPA is happy to let the practice continue: “…water and air pollution are minimized and water authorities have a low-cost source of fluoride…” – to the enormous benefit of the phosphate fertilizer industry. EPA’s rationale for defending fluoridation that is implied in that phrase is, “The solution to pollution is dilution…as long as the dilution occurs in drinking water systems and not in rivers or other waterways.”

Over 95 percent of  the HFSA…paid for by taxpayers at an average price of about $500-$800/ton, though New York and Phoenix pay an average of $2000/ton…goes down shower drains, flushes toilets, washes clothes and dishes, waters lawns and puts out fires…then….it goes into ambient waterways. F Use Calculation In this way EPA and the phosphate industry turn a hazardous waste, whose disposal would cost the phosphate industry many millions of dollars, into a pure profit item for industry worth many more millions of dollars. Dilution is the “ideal”solution to pollution, indeed.

Is this a great business model, or what!?

In 1982 EPA asked the Surgeon General for advice on various aspects of the Agency’s efforts toward setting drinking water standards for fluoride under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Here is a link to the Surgeon General’s response.Surgeon Genl 1983

How the Union Got Involved  An employee came to the union with an ethics complaint. He was tasked with writing the Federal Register notice proposing EPA’s new drinking water standards for fluoride. The Criteria Document supporting thos standards is here.EPA 1985 Criteria Doc  The non-enforceable health based standard was known at the time (1985) as the Recommended Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (RMCL). (It is now called the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal [MCLG]). The MCLG must be set at a level to prevent any known or anticipated adverse effect on health, with an adequate margin of safety. The enforceable standard is the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), and it must be set as close to the MCLG as technically and economically feasible. The MCLG EPA was proposing would allow a large fraction of children to have severe dental fluorosis, like this:or this: Severe DF

EPA had by fiat defined severe dental fluorosis as merely an adverse cosmetic effect, not a health effect, and therefore not anything EPA had to prevent in its health based regulation. (Note:  In 2006 the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council opined that severe dental fluorosis was, indeed, an adverse health effect, and advised EPA to revise its drinking water standards.)

In those days before email at EPA, mass communication was by posting on bulletin boards throughout Headquarters. This is what the complaining employee posted: Paul Price Posting on F MCLGS 2

Union Gets Involved  The employee came to union president Dr. Robert Carton complaining of this situation asking for help. During the Summer of 1985, after people outside the “EPA Fishbowl” learned of the union’s existence and advocacy for truth and good science in decision making on the asbestos issue, folks concerned about fluoride toxicity invited EPA employees to a seminar on the subject by Dr. John Yiamouyannis. That seminar coupled with the employee’s ethics complaint prompted Drs. Carton and Hirzy to visit the Director of the Office of Drinking Water. We tried to settle this ethics issue quietly, within the family, but EPA was unable or unwilling to resist external political pressure. We two also visited with Ralph Nader about the issue and he suggested we work with outside entities if they should approach us on the issue.

Documentation of Union Attempts to Work with EPA Management

1985_11_15_Union Memo

1985_12_10_Union Memo 1986_01_17b_Union Memo

1986_01_17b_Union Memo

1986_08_08_Union Vote

1986_08_26_Union Memo

1986_09_03_Amicus Brief

1986_09_04_Press Release

1988_05_25_Union Memo

1989_04_27_Union Memo

1989_08_14_Union Memo

1991_11_01_Presentation

1992_04_24b_Union Memo

NRDC Asks for Help  Also as a result of the union’s asbestos publicity, we were solicited by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to join in their 1986 lawsuit over fluoride drinking water standards filed against EPA.  NRDC asked the union to file an amicus curiae brief – SEE ABOVE –that laid out the science, which after a vote, we did. NRDC wrote the legal portions of the brief and Dr. Carton wrote the science portions, digging deeply into the extant literature on fluoride. The more union scientists looked into the fluoride issue, the more obvious became the political subversion of science around this issue. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reviewed the brief, then refused to enter it into the record, holding that if it did, “It would be like EPA suing itself.” We argued that the union had a separate legal existence from the Agency, but the Court still was not willing to accept our brief.

By Other Means….In spite of the Court’s rejection, the union’s views about the scientific invalidity of EPA’s fluoride drinking water regulations began to be sought by citizens wanting to keep fluoridation out of their communities. After consulting with NFFE National office about keeping out of legal trouble and getting National’s approval of our pursuing an EPA mission (and coincidentally making friends for organized labor in the Civil Service) by other means, Dr. Carton started making trips around the country, using his annual leave for that purpose. The National Union recognized Local 2050 for Honorable Mention for this work, and NRDC’s Amicus Journal published an article about the Local in 1990. Amicus Journal Summer 1990

Drs. Carton and Hirzy were contacted by BBC investigative reporter, Christopher Bryson, who had gotten our names from Ralph Nader upon his inquiry of Nader about fluoride for an article BBC had asked Bryson to write. Bryson interviewed both Carton and Hirzy and eventually published a book titled “The Fluoride Deception” in 2004. From left: Phyllis Mullenix, Bob Carton, Mike Connett, Bill Hirzy, Deb Jacobson, Chris Bryson at publication celebration.

By 1990 the union’s assessment of fluoride toxicity and requests from the public for this information led to publication of a White Paper on the subject. FLWHTPAP

Neurotoxicity In 1997, the union was asked to write a support letter, outlining our past involvement with the fluoride issue, for Dr. Phyllis Mullenix, a neurotoxicologist, who was suing her former employer for firing her because she published a paper on the neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats. This we did. Her research group showed, among other things, that off-spring of pregnant females were born hyperactive and remained hyperactive throughout life.

In 1998 a research group that included an EPA toxicologist found that rats drinking water containing 1 per per million (ppm) of fluoride as sodium fluoride or aluminum fluoride suffered significant brain damage, i.e. changes in brain blood vessels and loss of brain cells. They also showed kidney damage and what may have been damage to their immune systems.

Two scientists from the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, who happen also to be union officers, sent a memo to EPA’s Children’s Health Protection work group on neurotoxicity hazards that could be experienced by children from fluoride, based on studies during the 1990’s, never receiving the courtesy of an acknowledgment of the memo.

Union Votes to Oppose Fluoridation  The Mullenix letter came to the attention of some California citizens. They then asked the union to endorse the Californians For Safe Drinking Water ballot initiative aiming to keep fluoride out of that State’s water supplies. Before calling for a vote of its members on this request, the union arranged a seminar by Prof. Paul Connett of St. Lawrence University and Dr. Bob Carton, our former Local President, covering toxicity data published in the mid and late 1990’s. Based on the seminar and the preponderance of other adverse information on fluoride of which we had become aware since 1985, we voted at a general meeting in 1997 unanimously to endorse the California initiative.

Senate Testimony In June, 2000 Dr. Hirzy was invited to give testimony on the union’s views about fluoride to a Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Video of that testimony and other videos on fluoride can be viewed by going to http://fluoridealert.org/fan-tv/hirzy/. The written testimony is at this link: 629 FINAL . That testimony asked for a Congressional review of the U.S. Public Health Service’s national program of water fluoridation, but none has occurred – since 1978. The testimony video, and others at that site, also cover fluoride’s carcinogenicity up to 2000. More on cancer below.

Fluoride and Children’s IQ Dr. Hirzy and co-authors published a quantitative risk analysis on fluoride’s developmental neurotoxicity in December 2016 based on best available data and using two standard EPA risk analysis techniques. DNT Risk Assmnt 2016 . Over a year prior to that publication, Drs. Hirzy and Paul Connett twice briefed officials of the Office of Water at EPA HQ on the analysis of the developmental neurotoxicity data that would lead to the December 2016 publication. EPA officials responded by saying the Agency might consider these data during the next 6-Year Review of regulations.

In addition, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), for which Dr. Hirzy now serves as volunteer Science and Regulatory Affairs Advisor, filed a petition with EPA under provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended in 2016, asking for a ban on addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water. EPA denied the petition in February 2017, and FAN is currently (March 2017) deciding on next steps, which may include a lawsuit. More on the petition and its progress can be found at http://www.fluoridealert.org.

That url contains much information about the link between fluoride exposures and bone cancer that was developed before 2000.

EPA Fires Toxicologist for Speaking Out About Cancer In May, 1992, EPA fired the Office of Drinking Water’s chief toxicologist, who also was our local union’s Treasurer at the time, for refusing to remain silent on the fluoride cancer risk issue. This occurred following publication in 1991 of a National Toxicology Program bioassay of sodium fluoride that showed male rats got bone cancer after dosing with fluoride at levels only about one hundred-fold greater than the public receives. The judge who heard the lawsuit brought against EPA over the firing made the finding that EPA fired the toxicologist over his fluoride work, and not for the phony reason put forward by EPA management at his dismissal. He won his lawsuit and was put back on the payroll at EPA in 1994, with back pay and a $50,000 damage award, but only after the Agency was forced to do so by the Secretary of Labor and public embarrassment.

Inside the Fishbowl Newsletter Coverage See Vol. 1, No.4 of Inside the Fishbowl on the Newsletters Page for the first news communicated to EPA professionals by the union on this subject. Inside the Fishbowl continued to report on union activities on this subject over the years.

Cancer Data Post 2000 In 2005 a letter was sent from presidents of 11 EPA labor unions to Administrator Johnson requesting him to set an MCLG of zero for fluoride based on new cancer data, with cc’s to certain Members of Congress Unions SLJ MCLG 0 . A followup letter was sent one year later Follow ups re MCLG 0 memos, and  a letter to Speaker of the House Hastert requested a legislative moratorium on water fluoridation while further research was carried out Moratorium Letter Hastert. Neither Congress nor EPA appears to be interested in revisiting the national water fluoridation issue.

ADA Attacks EPA Unions The American Dental Association wrote to Assistant Administrator for Water Grumbles to complain of EPA’s labor unions’ communications cited above, to which union president Welch and vice-president Hirzy wrote a response to AA Grumbles. ADA Grumbles Our Reply

NFFE/NTEU Newsletters

On this page, inside each of the newsletters, the reader will find the richest source of details about the founding and day-to-day operation of a federal sector labor union created and led by employees dedicated to its agency’s mission and its bargaining unit members interests. During its organizing phase, the political environment in the U.S. was analogous to that at the beginning of the Trump Administration, but not quite as ominous insofar as only one federal Branch in 1981 was clearly under control by anti-labor and anti-environmental forces. Current (mid-2017) EPA staff face stern challenges, and we – and other EPA alumni – continue to support them and their mission.

Inside the Fishbowl was the newsletter of NFFE Local 2050, which the union began publishing – (first, by posting on bulletin boards!) in 1985. Gradually as the union became better established as a force within EPA headquarters we began distributing desk-to-desk, and finally won the right to have it delivered to all members of the professional bargaining unit via the internal EPA mail system.

First several volumes were produced before double-sided, stapled copying was available on EPA copy machines. Individual Fishbowl copies were hand stapled and single sided. (The stapler used during that time is still in possession of JWH.) All of that work was done after or before official work hours and on weekends, because use of “official time” for such activities had not yet been established by contract with EPA management.

The newsletter’s name came from a statement by William Ruckelshaus made early in his second term as Administrator. He was EPA’s first Administrator (12/1970 – 04/1973), and took on his second tour of duty to resuscitate the Agency after the administration of Anne Gorsuch had brought disgrace upon it. Bill’s admonition to the staff was, “We must conduct our affairs at EPA as if we worked inside a fishbowl.”

NFFE Local 2050 adopted that phrase not only is its newsletter’s name, but as its fundamental operating philosophy. The whole Agency, the Congress, the judiciary and the general public would have access to what the Local stood for, what issues it took on, and how it performed. During its early years the union send copies to other labor organizations…within government and in the private sector. We have included a link to one of the responses we received from NFFE Local 1827 after sending the March-April, 1992 issue to that union.

Also we include a link to the very first report from NFFE 2050 to its bargaining unit, posted to bulletin boards October 12, 1984…four months after having won our representational election in June of that year by a 90% plurality.

See also: Why We Organized Page

First news bulletin 1984

Letter from NFFE Local1827

Volume 1 (1985) HIGHLIHGTS Volume 1 covers Local 2050’s first step out into defining ethical performance by professional employees AND management as a working conditions issue. Specifically it dealt with EPA’s roll back of asbestos regulations under pressure by the Office of Management and Budget after that agency held secret talks with Canadian asbestos mining interests.

It also has our first contact with the issue of shoddy contractor produced “science” in support of a drinking water regulation that had been pre-determined by political pressure on the Office of Water. The regulation in question was the Recommended Maximum Contaminant Level (now, Maximum Contaminant Level Goal), the non-enforceable, health science based standard that protects against any known or anticipated adverse effect on health, for fluoride. The union’s involvement in this issue continued into the 21st Century. The Local was eventually joined by other EPA unions on this subject. See “Fluoride” on the Key Issues page.

Fishbowl Vol.1 No.1 (1985)

Fishbowl Vol. 1 No. 2 (1985)

Fishbowl Vol.1 No.4 (1985)

Volume 2 (1986) HIGHLIGHTS Volume 2 reports on NFFE 2050’s  first contract with EPA and on continuing work on the asbestos and fluoride issues as matters of working conditions.

Fishbowl, Vol. 2 (1986)

Volume 3 (1987) HIGHLIGHTS This volume marks the first work of the Local on indoor air quality among other representational matters. It was in Fall of 1987 that new carpet began to be installed at Waterside Mall and Fairchild Bldg. headquarters  workplaces. See “Toxic Carpet” on the Key Issues page.

Fishbowl Vol. 3 (1987)

Volume 4 (1988) HIGHLIGHTS VOLUME 4 reports on the outbreak of serious health problems, especially among Waterside Mall workers, associated with new carpeting.The union was invited to testify before Congress on the carpet issue, and the indoor air problems at EPA were covered by PBS television. This became a very contentious issue with EPA management that resulted in breakdowns in negotiations on professional ethics and compressed work week (CWW). Eventually the latter was settled and agreement was reached between the union and management, although Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response managers tried to deny CWW to their employees. The union fought back. The carpet dispute also led EPA to refuse to distribute Inside the Fishbowl to employees. The union fought back.

Fishbowl Vol. 4 (1988)

Volume 5 (1989) HIGHLIGHTS Volume 5 reports on invited testimony given before Congress on OMB’s influence, on contracting out professional work, and on Cabinet status for EPA. The Institute for Policy Studies invited the union to speak on its role at EPA, which resulted in a publication in the Environmental Law Reporter titled, “The Other Voice From EPA: The Role of the Headquarters Professional’s Union,” published here on the Why We Organized page. The union bargained alternative work space for employees sickened by carpet emissions and unable to enter Waterside Mall office spaces. Management agreed to remove carpet after results of a health and environment survey are published. Union reported on risk assessment work related to carpet emissions. Media pick up on union activity on carpet and fluoride issues.

Fishbowl Vol. 5 Nos. 1-3 (1989)

Fishbowl Vol. 5 Nos.4-6 (1989)

Fishbowl Vol. 5 Nos. 7-9 (1989)

Volume 6 (1990) HIGHLIGHTS In this volume are reports on a survey of employees about a new building for EPA,  the union’s intervention to defend program office attorneys in a dispute with the Office of General Counsel, and an end-of-fiscal year threatened furlough of federal employees. The union filed a TSCA section 21 petition with EPA dealing with toxic carpets. This happened after EPA refused to use data it collected on the Waterside Mall experience with carpeting in dealing with the national scale of the problem.  The petition was denied and EPA instead set up the Carpet Policy Dialogue, which ran for 13 months.  See:  Key Issues/ Toxic Carpet page/subpage for much more detail and documentation on that issue. The issue of asbestos in the Crystal Mall-2 work place emerged, and the Roachez cartoon feature made its first appearance. An article titled “Aerosols, Arson and EPA,” was published, as was more on fluoride and cancer.

Fishbowl Vol 6 (1990)

Volume 7 (1991) HIGHLIGHTS Volume 7 covers, among other items, diversity and discrimination at headquarters, reports on the Carpet Policy Dialogue, the poem “Below Regulatory Concern,” and management’s attempts to silence or crush or destroy NFFE Local 2050, and how the union fought back, won, drove off the responsible Assistant Administrator, and into the bargain won the four full-time positions in the union office that all subsequent Presidents, Executive Vice-Presidents, Chief Stewards and Senior Vice-Presidents have been able to use to represent headquarters professionals. EPA then granted AFGE Local 3331, representing the non-professional bargaining unit, five FTEs – Local 3331’s bargaining unit was considerable larger than NFFE 2050’s. Details are in Vol. 8. Numbers 5 and 6 of  Volume 7 are particularly germane to the union’s fight for survival.

Fishbowl Vol 7 (1991)

Volume 8 (1992) HIGHLIGHTS Volume 8 covers details of the union’s win on using 4 full-time positions on official time and its connection with a ruling in the union’s favor by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. EPA’s firing of Office of Water Senior Toxicologist Dr. William Marcus for – as a trial judge later ruled – his opposition to EPA’s ignoring the carcinogenicity of fluoride. Bill sued to get his job back and won. Details and documentation in Key Issues/Fluoride. Carpet Policy Dialogue is critiqued for its strong support of the carpet industry led by EPA’s official representative to the Dialogue. There is more, including documents, on these topics on the Key Issues page.

Fishbowl Vol 8 (1992)

 

Vol 9 No.1

Vol 9 No. 2      No. 3 is missing…

Vol 9 No.4.

Vol 9 No.5

Vol 9 No.6

Vol 9 No. 7

Vol 9 No. 8

Volume 9 (1993) HIGHLIGHTS There was so much news toward the end of 1993 that some confusion in numbering issues and ascribing months ensued. The final article in this issue, “Dietrich’s Law” is  a penetrating look at how sweetheart deals between DOJ and companies identified by EPA as egregious law violators was uncovered by Richard Emory of EPA’s Office of Enforcement, with Emory subsequently punished by EPA management. He was subsequently exonerated through efforts of the Government Accountability Project and Local 2050 and became an honored member of the union’s Executive  Board. See “Dietrich’s Law” on the Professional Ethics/Scientific Integrity Page.

Vol 9 No.8A This was an especially noteworthy issue of the Fishbowl, containing articles how EPA got to Federal Triangle, Richard Emory’s exoneration, re-inventing government, and upper management’s shallow devotion to integrity, among others.

Unforunately only one Number of Volume 10 (1994) exists, Number 7, which contains the union’s vision for partnership and a critique of its status as of July 1994. That year saw the union’s transition from NFFE Local 2050 through independent union, Environmental Employees Collectively Organized – EECO, to NTEU Chapter 280. Information about that transition is on the Summary History page. Vol 10 No.7

Volume 11 (1995) HIGHLIGHTS Volume 11 covers part of the brief history of EECO, and , the trusteeship the union was subjected to by NFFE National Office, and finally restoration of NFFE Local 2050 and its elected officers to full representational status. in 1994 the Gingrich Congress, with its “Contract on America” led to real and justified fear of substantial cuts in EPA staff, a.k.a. Reductions in Force RIFs. In 1997 EPA’s labor unions engaged in prolonged negotiations with management to deal with the threat. This is all reported in Volume 11.Volume 11

Volume 12 (1996) HIGHLIGHTS The Volume covers budget and anti-environmental agendas, whistleblower Jeff Van Ee, and a hard fought election. Comments by a candidate who lost and responses by others have not been scanned in.
Vol. 12

Vol. 13 (1997) HIGHLIGHTS The Volume covers a tumultuous year in the union’s history, 1997. Bitter election contests and the transition from NFFE to NTEU, which was a difficult decision by the membership. No. 1 contains a critique of partnership, news of bargaining on a code of professional ethics, and a piece by Member Richard Emory on the role of the Inspector General; Dick was a candidate for that position at EPA and a victorious, protected whistleblower whose story is elsewhere on this site. No. 2 reports on the award of $4.2 million to a plaintiff in a toxic carpet lawsuit. No. 3 is an election issue. No. 4 contains a number of juicy articles including more from Dick Emory on the IG’s role, a piece by Dwight Welch on “The White Collar Sweatshop,” the union’s vote to support a state-wide ban on fluoridation in California, and Editor’s Comments on social injustice, welfare “reform” under Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton, and thoughts about the dedication of the Franklin Roosevelt memorial. No. 5 has stories about a dramatic Greenpeace demonstration at HQ, Clinton’s EPA’s failures in connection with the WTI Incinerator in Ohio, Part One of Brian Dementi’s struggles for scientific integrity on malathion (See Organophosphates/Malathion on the Key Issues Page) – Part 2 is in No. 6, coverage of the UPS strike, the union’s endorsement of Dick Emory for IG, and other interesting material – a great issue of the “Bowl.” No. 6 covers Part 2 of the Dementi story, disarray at NFFE (which led to our move to NTEU), and a National Partnership Council meeting.Vol. 13 No.1
Vol. 13 Nos. 2 – 6

Volume 14 (1998) HIGHLIGHTS The volume covers the full transition of the union to Chapter 280, National Treasury Employees Union, reports on downstream events from the toxic carpet crisis, and an important victory (in No.1) by Dwight Welch, who, after years of struggle, was able to force EPA to recognize that the propane propellant in pesticide aerosols really is FLAMMABLE, and to issue a labeling rule warning consumers of that fact. No. 2 is an election issue. No. 3 cites union accomplishments in 1997, and has articles on NYC waste dumping in Virginia (by Brian Dement), and a fluoride toxicity symposium in which Bob Carton and Bill Hirzy were presenters. Vol. 14 Nos 1-3
Vol. 14 No.4

Volume 15 (1999) HIGHLIGHTS Vol 15 (1999) HIGHLIGHTS No.1 contains Dwight Welch’s piece on the environmental justice aspects of water fluoridation. No. 2 has news of the NTEU National Convention at which V.P. Al Gore spoke. No.3 is an election issue. No. 3 contains the union’s communication with Administrator Browner on diversity issues, our lobbying on behalf of EPA’s budget, and the union’s White Paper on fluoride toxicity.

Volume 16 (2000) HIGHLIGHTS Vol. 16No.1 contains articles on free speech for federal employees, attacks on the union by fluoridation promoters and our response (see the Fluoride Toxicity Page for more details), National Partnership Council news, publication of EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity (PSI), and our support for SEIU Local 82’s “Justice for Janitors” campaign. No. 2 is an election issue. No.3 has articles on racial discrimination and analyses of malathion and fluoride toxicity in light of the PSI.

Volume 17 (2001) HIGHLIGHTS Vol 17 No.1 has articles on our union’s negotiating for GS-15 non-supervisors positions in Pesticides Office, our referral of malathion issues to the Inspector General, NTEU President’s critique of a Heritage Foundation report, and fluoride activities.

 

 

 

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