New Post: December 23, 2018. Links to 11 documents have been added on the Fluoride page of the website that show how the union attempted to work “within the family” on the question of applying principles of scientific integrity to regulation of hazards of fluoride in drinking water. Members of the union began in 1985 to try to bring ethical science to bear on this question. At least one such member, albeit in retired status, continues to this day in this effort.
Search results: "fluoride" (Page 1 of 2)
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
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
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.
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 Grizzle. citizen 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
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.
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
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
William Marcus 1983, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992
Patricia Hilgard 1985
Morris Blumenfeld 1987
Daljit Sawhney 1988, 1989
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
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
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
Thanks for visiting EPA Union History. For news on recent additions to the site or current news posts, go to the Posts link.
Also use the Search Box to visit the new Fight Back Page
The website is a work-in-progress as of August 2018. It was initially conceived as a history of the HQ professional bargaining unit’s union, which was chartered in 1983 as Local 2050, National Federation of Federal Employees. As we built this site and populated it with stories and documents, it became obvious that the site would include material on the efforts of other EPA labor unions. Some of that material is on the Collective Bargaining/Partnership page and the Professional Ethics/Scientific Integrity page. Likewise, the NFFE/NTEU Newsletters page covering Volumes published beginning in 1992 has material on our work with EPA’s other labor organizations.
Furthermore, our interest in the Agency, its employees and its missions is ongoing in these trying times. Thus the creation of the Fight Back and Posts pages where we will do our best to stay current with organized labor’s work at EPA.
To access the Main Pages and SubPages on this site – so far – use the search box at the right on the Home Page. You can also see a Summary History through 1999, which is a subpage of this page. Available pages currently are: Why We Organized, Posts, Contact Us, Key Issues (with subpages on Professional Ethics/Scientific Integrity, Fluoride Toxicity, Toxic Carpet – with SubSubPages) and NFFE/NTEU Newsletters.
The Newsletters Page provides an especially rich historical picture of the union’s activities and events happening within EPA and across the federal government during these times. In particular, specific happenings around Key Issues are presented in great detail in the newsletters issues.
Drs. Robert J. Carton and J. William Hirzy are the proprietors of this website. They are charter members – two of the eight in that category – of the EPA HQ professionals’ union, originally Local 2050 of the National Federation of Federal Employees. In the text below that relates a brief history of the union – up to 1999 – one can find a complete list of officers who ever served.
Drs. Carton and Hirzy were especially moved to create this site because the current staff at EPA is now (February 2017) faced with similar challenges, but far more ominous, than the staff faced in 1981. By making available documents and commentary that show how EPA professionals reacted facing the advent of the Reagan/Gorsuch administration, they hope to inform and inspire current staff in ways to survive with their honor – and jobs – intact as dedicated members of the Civil Service.
They also want to make available to other working people, students, Congress and the general public the story of how members of the Civil Service organized and fought for their rights and for the public interest, starting in difficult times.
New Post September 11, 2019 (An Opinion) Employees at the National Weather Service, in responding to Alabama citizens concerned about a goofy prediction by Upper Management of a pending appearance of Hurricane Doria, demonstrated scientific integrity. The public rallied to their defense.
The Headquarters professionals’ union used to engage management fiercely over scientific integrity issues, e.g. asbestos regulation, organophosphates, indoor air pollution, fluoride toxicity, second hand smoke hazards, etc. Thru those battles we won many allies among the public and in Congress. It was these allies who made it possible for us to win 4 FTE’s* for union officers (and AGFE 3331 got 5 FTE’s). Where are our outside allies now, what similar public battles has the Chapter fought that would even interest and engage with such allies, as we used to do – and as we used to have??
History has shown (see details on this website) that EPA has a large natural constituency among the public and in Congress that would again rally around organized employees visibly engaged in defense of the environment and public health with scientific integrity.
NTEU National ought to have realized this long ago and encouraged this kind of unionism along with increases in dues-paying membership.
As indispensable as the Internal Revenue Service and its dedicated, hard working employees are to the nation, unionism at EPA should be pursued on a different basis than has been the very effective model for IRS.
*Full Time Equivalent, i.e. a full time position
New Post May 1, 2019. (by Bill Hirzy) On April 23 and 24 a symposium on the future of the Environmental Protection Agency was held at American University. /it was organized and operated jointly by the EPA Alumni Association and the university. The first day’s proceedings were available on the YouTube site of the American University School of Public Service website.
I distributed the thought piece, titled “EPA 2045 – A Staff Perspective, below to about 70 of the 100 or so participants before the first day session. This piece was an expansion of contributions I made to Work Group 5 of the Alumni Association’s efforts toward developing an agenda for the symposium.
EPA 2045 – A Staff Perspective
- William Hirzy, Ph.D.
It goes without saying that work to overcome the global environmental challenges now confronting us must begin now, not decades or even just years from now. It also goes without saying that citizens of the United States – and of the world – rightly expect and demand that the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency operate with the words environmental protection as its lodestar.
This conference is a venue for charting a course by which the Agency can do what is expected of it. I write this piece as a past president of an EPA labor Union that was organized expressly with those expectations in mind, i.e., to enable environmental professionals to do their work in conformity with the highest standards of their respective professions. Political influence over their work would be – and was – actively opposed. There have been many examples of political interference with good environmental practice that reflect dishonor and bring public opprobrium upon the Agency. For example –
The recent ruling by Federal Judge Linda Parker in a lawsuit brought by victims of the Flint, Michigan water disaster that the “government is not immune” from such a suit is but one, recent, example of the failure of EPA to take heed of scientific evidence of harm pointed out by a staff member, Miguel Del Toral.
The shoddy, unwarranted treatment of Dr. Ruth Etzel as director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection is another that brought national shame to EPA.
While these two examples reflect high-level political influence that make a mockery of the Agency’s mission, there are many others that are less well publicized, but nevertheless are felt in more direct, detailed staff work. A chemical engineer came to my Union office complaining of her supervisor’s orders about reporting effluent monitoring data. She said, “He told me that he was the boss, and if he said, ‘2 + 2 = 7, its your job to support me.’”
This cannot continue.
While I was Labor Co-Chair of the EPA National Partnership Council in the late 1990’s, the Council developed EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity (PSI), which it was hoped would prevent such management abuse. EPA’s Office of General Counsel, however, refused to permit the PSI to contain a mechanism for adjudicating disputes, so the PSI was – and remains to this day- mere window dressing that management trots out when needed in responding to Congressional investigations or other embarrassments. See attached: “At EPA, Unions Break From Management.”
Here, then is a proposal – developed from the hard and frustrating struggles of organized labor trying to represent staff– only a few of which are delineated in this piece – which if adopted, will address part of the Agency’s need to move swiftly and effectively toward overcoming the challenges of the future. By making cooperation and coordination between staff and management a more collegial affair true team spirit will replace contention and EPA can perform as expected – once more taking its rightful place among the very best places in the federal government to work.
Staff/Management Coordination and Empowerment
The EPA Principles of Scientific Integrity will be amended through negotiations with the Agency’s labor unions to include a mechanism for adjudicating disputes.
Empowering staff as well as managers to identify potential improvements and corrections to system weaknesses will make the Agency more effective and innovative. This will require sustained commitment from the highest levels of the Agency, and political support from outside.
Staff will be active participants with management in identifying problems to be addressed and in planning how to address them. Processes to implement this mode of operation will be developed jointly.
Disagreements will occur from time to time among sincere, committed environmental professionals. In matters involving interpretation and evaluation of scientific inputs, only employees well qualified by education, training and experience will be decision makers, using EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity as guidance. External peer review will be used upon request by any party to the dispute.
Each Regional and Headquarters Assistant Administrator will establish an appropriate sized staff/management team to carry out these arrangements.
March 27, 2000
Principles of Scientific Integrity
It is essential that EPA’s scientific and technical activities be of the highest quality and credibility if EPA is to carry out its responsibilities to protect human health and the environment. Honesty and integrity in its activities and decision-making processes are vital if the American public is to have trust and confidence in EPA’s decisions. EPA adheres to these Principles of Scientific Integrity.
EPA employees, whatever their grade, job or duties, must:
Ensure that their work is of the highest integrity – this means that the work must be performed objectively and without predetermined outcomes using the most appropriate techniques. Employees are responsible and accountable for the integrity and validity of their own work. Fabrication or falsification of work results are direct assaults on the integrity of EPA and will not be tolerated.
Represent their own work fairly and accurately. When representing the work of others, employees must seek to understand the results and the implications of this work and also represent it fairly and accurately.
Respect and acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others in representing their work to the public or in published writings such as journal articles or technical reports. To do otherwise is plagiarism. Employees should also refrain from taking credit for work with which they were not materially involved.
Avoid financial conflicts of interest and ensure impartiality in the performance of their duties by respecting and adhering to the principles of ethical conduct and implementing standards contained in Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch and in supplemental
Be cognizant of and understand the specific, programmatic statutes that guide the employee’s work.
Accept the affirmative responsibility to report any breach of these principles.
Welcome differing views and opinions on scientific and technical matters as a legitimate and necessary part of the process to provide the best possible information to regulatory and policy decision-makers.
Adherence by all EPA employees to these principles will assure the American people that they can have confidence and trust in EPA’s work and in its decisions.
 Dr. Hirzy is a charter member and past president of the Headquarters labor Union, and served as Labor Co-Chair of the National Partnership Council during the Clinton Administration.
 The PSI, attached, originated in drafts of a professional ethics section of a collective bargaining agreement proposed by our labor union in 1985.
 For more examples of how EPA’s labor unions, and in particular Local 2050 of the National Federation of Federal Employees and Chapter 280 of the National Treasury Employees Union have carried out their work, as well as information on how and why they organized and how they interacted with the public and other labor unions, go to https://epaunionhistory.org
New Posts (2) February 7, 2019. Both these posts are related to the Trump Lockout/Shutdown. The first is a final report email message from Chuck Elkins – whose brain child the Operation was – on the EPA Alumni Association’s “Operation $hutdown $upport, through which alumni provided aid to needy locked out employees. The second is notice of a high and well-deserved honor accorded Amer Al-Mudallal, President of NTEU Chapter 280 by Representative Gerald Connelly, who invited Amer to attend the State of the Union address as a representative of all federal employees affected by the Lockout.
1. What a team effort! You can be very proud. As a group we distributed $36,500 in $20 increments to 165 EPA employees/SEE enrollees who especially needed our help during the recent government shutdown. That was over 1800 separate transactions, and I know from your emails that many of you experienced some very frustrating interactions with the companies that sell e-gift cards.
We received numerous emails of thanks from the recipients, many of them wanting to thank you individually for your gifts.
Many of you expressed sympathy for those of us doing the “Back Office” portion of this effort. Those emails were much appreciated. The administrative portion of the effort was overwhelming, but I was lucky to have the help of Bob Wayland, Barry Gilbert, and Phyllis Flaherty. At the initial stages, I also had the help of Bill Hirzy who connected us with the EPA unions who helped us get the word out to EPA employees.
Thanks to all of you for your generosity. It exceeded our wildest expectations.
Chuck Elkins, Executive Director
EPA Alumni Association
2. Connolly to Take Furloughed Federal Employee to the State of the Union
Washington, D. C. – Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, announced today that he will take Amer Al-Mudallal, a Fairfax constituent, to the State of the Union. Amer is a chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Office of Pesticides Programs, Registration Division. Both Amer and his wife, who also works at the EPA, were furloughed during the 35-day shutdown. Amer currently serves as Chapter President of NTEU Chapter 280. Amer has worked at EPA for more than 22 years.
“We all recognize the importance of border security but I’m disappointed to see the suffering of Federal employees and their families being used for political gain,” said Amer Al-Mudallal.
“Families like Amer’s, who are committed to public service and just want to serve their country, shouldn’t be held hostage by the President during a government shutdown,” Connolly said. “I want to thank Amer and his wife for the sacrifices they’ve made, and I hope they know we will continue to work to protect federal employees.”
Amer’s experience is detailed here.
Jamie Smith, Communications Director
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly
11th District of Virginia
New Post: January 23, 2019. During the current Lockout (a.k.a. partial government shutdown) of federal government employees and related private sector personnel, the EPA Alumni Association in partnership with EPA labor unions is running Operation $hutdown $upport for affected EPA employees. As of yesterday funds contributed by EPA alumni totalling over $12,000 have been distributed to hard-pressed EPA workers. This is a demonstration of Partnership of a high order. The idea of this program was conceived by Chuck Elkins, who was Director of the Office of Toxic Substances during my tenure at the Agency. Chuck contacted me as a way of getting Agency organized labor to spread the word about it.
For a detailed history of how this unique partnership operation was implemented go to the Collective Bargaining/Partnership Page of this website.
New Post: December 23, 2018. Links to 11 documents have been added on the Fluoride page of the website that show how the union attempted to work “within the family” on the question of applying principles of scientific integrity to regulation of hazards of fluoride in drinking water. Members of the union began in 1985 to try to bring ethical science to bear on this question. At least one such member, albeit in retired status, continues to this day in this effort.
New Post October 10, 2018 Links to three documents that bear on NFFE Local 2050’s early activities on fluoride toxicity. The documents are the Report of the Surgeon General’s Ad Hoc Committe on Non-dental Effects of Fluoride, EPA’s Criteria Document justifying the drinking water standards set in 1985 that are still in effect, and the lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA over the health based standard – which Local 2050 joined as amicus curiae.
Also a subpage to the Fluoride page has been created and discusses costs associated with use of HFSA and pharmaceutical sodium fluoride as fluoridating agents.
New Post August 5, 2018 Bill Hirzy has been working with one of five focus groups of EPA alumni on a project to envision, in essence, what EPA should look like in 2025. He was impressed with the dedication and hard work of all the alumni who are contributing to this project. His suggested text, below in italics, for dealing with staff concerns about scientific integrity and their ability to most effectively contribute to a better functioning Agency was adopted in his focus group’s final report.
2. Staff/Management Coordination and Empowerment Empowering staff as well as managers to identify potential improvements and correct systemic weaknesses can make the Agency more effective and innovative. This will require a sustained commitment from the highest levels of the Agency.
In this iteration of the Agency, staff will be active participants with management in identifying problems to be addressed and in planning how to address them. Processes to implement this mode of operation should be developed jointly by all participants with a stake in the process.
The focus group recognizes that disagreements will occur from time to time among sincere, committed environmental professionals. In matters involving interpretation and evaluation of scientific inputs, managers and staff qualified by education, training and experience should be the decision makers in resolving differences in professional judgments as they arise, using EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity as guidance. (Appendix C)
New Post July 31,2018: Significant Documents re: Official Time Posted During the Toxic Carpet incident and subsequent battles, EPA made a doomed attempt to bust the union by severely restricting its members’ and officers’ use of official time to less than one full time person (a.k.a. 1 FTE – or “one full-time equivalent) at a time when about six members/officers were working on the problem. That work included (as the Toxic Carpet Page explains) dealing with employees injuries and inability to work in their normal office spaces, filing and followup on a petition to the Agency concerning the problem, and responding to a torrent of inquiries from the public about it after major media picked up the story.
The newly posted documents illustrate how the union won the right to bargain for adequate official time in an appeal to the Federal Labor Relations Authority and garnered support from the public and Congress that not only fought off those attempting to destroy the union, but ultimately resulted the union’s acquiring 4 FTE’s for officers, adequate official time for stewards, and decently equipped office space.
Once NFFE Local 2050, representing the professional bargaining unit, won these rights, EPA granted 5 FTE’s, along with office space, for our sister union, AFGE Local 3331, representing the non-professional bargaining unit.
New Post April 8, 2018 When the Gorsuch Administratorship crashed in 1982 from ethical catastrophes, EPA staffer and whistleblower extrordinaire, Hugh Kaufman, created this cartoon which was posted on bulletin boards around Headquarters.Die Opera ist Kaput (This was more than 10 years before email communication at HQ became available.)
Sensing a dejavu moment approaching, and employing technology 30+ years more advanced than what Hugh Kaufman had available, some people here in DC, observing the sleaze at the head of the Agency now, have posted these gems all around Capitol Hill. The phone number on the tear-out response tabs at the bottom is for the EPA Public Information Office.
Pruitt’s sound proof phone booth, biometric office door locks, bullet proof desk, platoons of security details and first-class airline seats (when he doesn’t take private jets) may show up in future around-town postings like this one. Stay tuned!
New Post November 29, 2017 More documents have been posted on the main Toxic Carpet page and the sub page on the Carpet policy Dialogue. These provide substantial documentation on how EPA management bent far over to protect the (then) $9 billion/year carpet industry. See, especially, the Indoor Environment ’93 material on the Carpet Dialogue page titled “Re-Inventing Government and History.”
New Post November 27, 2017 A professor at the University of California-Davis contacted us after reading the material on this website, particularly the material on Toxic Carpet and the Carpet Policy Dialogue. As a result we have today posted new material related to that work and EPA management’s attempts to silence the union’s voice on that subject in particular and on other scientific integrity issues in general. This new Post is on the EPA Attempts to Bust the Union page. Here is a link to one of the items that also appears on that page. Health Freedom News Article
We think this new Post is a significant piece of organized labor history worthy of your reading.
New Post August 19, 2017 All available print editions of Inside the Fishbowl – through 2001 – are now viewable on the News Letters page. Up to 2001 print editions had been printed and distributed by EPA management to bargaining unit members under contract. In 2001 a new contract provided that EPA would make available a web platform to host the union’s website, which would publish the ‘Bowl and other information that the union and management agreed was in the public interest. On-line editions – through 2008 – have been preserved and are being edited to make them compatible with the platform supporting epaunionhistory.org. They will be posted later this month.
New Post June 20, 2017 Letter to EPA’s Office of General Counsel at headquarters from three EPA Region 9 union presidents, Thelma Estrada, AFGE Local 1236; Patrick Chan, NTEU Chapter 295; and Mark Sims of Engineers and Scientists of California, IFPTE Local 20 regarding Fisrt Amendment rights of EPA employees.Ethics Letter – R9 Unions to OGC 03-24-2017
New Post May 15 2017 copy/pasted from EPA Alumni Association email of May 14, 2017 featuring a visit by Rep. Deb Dingell to the Ann Arbor Laboratory. The visit was hosted by AFGE Local 3907 and the AFGE National Council of EPA Unions.
Thanks to the EPA Alumni Association for providing this material.
New Post, April 30, 2017
EPA Unions represented at the March for the Environment, April 29, 2017. Our sign is next to the Globe, in the second rank.
Photo of EPA HQ union presence at the March for Science, April 22, 2017. At left, holding banner, Amer Al-Mudallal, Executive Vice-President, far left, side view of Chief Steward, Anne-Marie Pastorkovich, right side of banner, Secretary Toby Jeong, holding”We need EPA,” Steward Denise Walker, Bill Hirzy behind “EPA Unions Fighting….” sign. EPA HQ Union at March for ScienceEPA HQ Union at March for Science
Two other links regarding NTEU Chapter 280’s efforts on scientific integrity are below…..
“Rejuvenating Federal Sector Science” was the topic of a conference called by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and a presentation at that conference caught my eye today (April 23, 2017). I was looking through historical documents to post on this website and ran across that presentation. Although it was given 9 years ago, in July 2008, the presentation speaks clearly to the theme of yesterday’s March for Science. Here is the link to it.Protecting Federal Sector Scientists
Later that year the union was invited to make a presentation at Harvard University’s School of Law, along with other unions, on the subject of representing professional employees in science and technology workplaces.Representing Professionals in Science, Engineering and Technology
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.
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.
EPA hired a “union buster” consultant to advise Mr. Grizzle on how to put a tight muzzle on the union.
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 Bill Hirzy, 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. Management, at Mr. Grizzle’s direction asserted that the union’s use of official time to serve on the Carpet Policy Dialogue and to respond to inquiries from the public about our experience with toxic carpet, the fraudulent science supporting EPA’s fluoride drinking water standards, its refusal to require flammability warnings on pesticide aerosol cans, and similar matters was non-negotiable and thus illegal. 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. (When Bill Hirzy was presented with management’s insulting 0.75 FTE response, he exploded with, “You want a war with the union, we will give you a war with the union!)
See the subpage Signficant Related Documents for details of how that war was fought by the union.
Meanwhile, 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 under 18 U.S.C. §205 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. (All of this was happening during the First Iraq War – also known as Operation Desert Storm) The union opened “Operation ShitStorm.” We sent letters OSS Request for Help Letter 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. Here are examples of the kind of response the public made to the union’s request, along with EPA responses and letters from Congress on the subject Health Freedom News Article
Meanwhile, during the Reign of Terror, Local 2050, with the magnificent support from Charles Bernhart of NFFE’s National Office, filed and won a negotiability appeal with the Federal Labor Relations Authority on use of official time for “matters that were in the public interest.” Negotiability Appeal Negotiability Decision Signed Official Time Agreement
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, a suitable office and equipment to operate it. 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. This war between the union and management was over.
New Posting. Speech given at the Center for Science in the Public Interest conference on Rejuvenating Federal Sector Science, July 11, 2008 by Bill Hirzy. The speech was published in the on-line Volume 19 (2008) of Inside the Fishbowl that was available to EPA HQ staff via the NTEU Chapter 280 website. That issue of the Bowl can be read on the Newsletters Page.
This is the first of several new postings taken from the material that was available in the version of the NTEU Chapter 280 website that was taken down and revised into its present form (June 2017). The previous version of that website is available to us for selecting material to post on epaunionhistory.org.
By scrolling down to “Dietrich’s Law,” you will get a crash course in how government can be a frustrating, career-damaging place to work – sometimes. And why whistleblower protection moieties like unions and organizations like the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) are vital to good government.
The links below are to the unions first Statement of Purpose and to Contract News, dated Feburary 5, 1985 ten days before our Open Letter to Administrator Thomas about the asbestos rules abandonment. In these links the reader may see how the union applied the philosophy contained in them in writing the Thomas Letter.
The following link gives a more developed expression of how the union viewed professional ethics, e.g. citing the need for protection for intellectual property and against management pressure to tailor a professional’s work to suit a predetermined policy outcome, for all EPA work to conform with – and for all employees to understand – the spirit and letter of environmental law, and for all employees to assume the duty to report plagiarism and scientific fraud.
These views were made part of union proposals for a Code of Ethics Article in the collective bargaining agreement with management. Some of them were eventually included in EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity (PSI) (a link to the EPA PSI is below) agreed to by the EPA National Partnership Council (NPC) in 1999 and promulgated by Administrator Browner in 2000. This union was largely responsible for this action, which was taken during its Senior Vice-president’s service as Labor Co-Chair of the NPC.
Notably absent from the PSI was the provision called for in the link below for an enforceable mechanism for adjudicating disputes arising from complaints by employees about violations of these ethical principles.
Employee View of Ethics Management’s response to the union’s proposals was to cite elements of the then existing grievance procedure, which made no mention of professional ethics.
The basic principles that guided the union’s negotiating positions as we attempted to establish, with management’s cooperation, a realistic and effective code of professional ethics were these:Basic code of ethics Principles
(Note how closely the above Principles mimic what eventually, a decade later, became EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity.)
Draft No. 3 of the union’s developing ideas on a professional ethics contract article, including a case study.Professional Ethics Draft 3
Links to two items authored by the union’s first President, Bill Coniglio. The first, from a 1988 Science Letter dealing with piece work in the Pesticide Office. Coniglio in Science Mag. The second, a personal communication to Bob Carton, who was preparing a presentation to the Loehr Panel on EPA’s Science commissioned by Administrator Riley.Professionalism in Public Service – Loehr Panel.
Here is an article from the January 1, 1988 Envirnmental HEalth Letter that questions whether EPA is retreating from dealing with toxics, especially pesticides – a subject – unfortunately – never out of date.1988 Is EPA retreating on toxics
Draft #12 Ethics 3.3.88 The union and management exchanged many proposals for a Code of Ethics provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between 1985 and early 1988. Draft #12 contains – as did all prior drafts – provisions for resolving disputes over scientific integrity. Such provisions were always rejected by EPA management.
This is the last proposal by the union before EPA cut off negotiations on this subject during the Toxic Carpet crisis (see that subpage under Key issues) at the Waterside Mall HQ buildings. The union had begun its independent analysis of risks and illnesses employees were experiencing from carpet emissions, and management was not happy with what our analysis showed.
Press coverage Draft #12 This is coverage by Pesticide and Toxic Chemical News of Draft #12.
After the formation of the EPA National Partnership Council during the Clinton Administration NFFE Local 2050/NTEU Chapter 280 spearheaded an effort to have the NPC push for an EPA Code of Professional Ethics. By August 1999 the version in this link was tentatively agreed to. It is quite similar to Draft #12. PSI Draft 8.25.99 This draft had its crucial sections 5 and 7 deleted by the Office of General Counsel. Section 5 contained all the provisions for enforcing the PSI policy.
Browner PSI Memorandum This is a link to the memorandum sent by Administrator Browner announcing adoption of the Principles of Scientific Integrity policy…which EPA has ever since denied is a negotiable/grieveable policy, making the PSI merely a charming window dressing that provides zero protection for employees. See material related to a Step 3 grievance involving organophosphates and an employee complaint of PSI violations.
Scientific Integrity Activities by Bill Hirzy This link is to a 2006 report on scientific integrity activities published in Inside the Fishbowl. The last part of the report shows how the union’s work in one specific area – fluoride toxicity – has had beneficial effects that include, but are not limited to, making allies for the union among the general public. Such allies were called upon for help when the union and its leaders were under serious threats, including Federal prosecution. See the Carpet Crisis Page.
The following link relates to how the labor arm of the NPC reacted to Bush Administration interference with EPA’s ability to inform the public about the dangers of contamination immediately following the terror attacks in New York on September 11, 2001.911 Unions’ Action This was a concrete example of the unions’ efforts to shine a light on improper political subversion of the Agency’s mission in contravention of – among other duties and responsibilities of the Executive Branch – EPA’s Principles of Scientific Integrity.
Scientific Integrity Blog 12.07.16 This link is a commentary about the Obama Administration’s proposed definition of “Scientific Integrity,” published in 2009. The commentary points out the glaring lack of any means of enforcement against violations by management, which is consistent with EPA management’s long standing non-negotiable, non-grieveable, non-arbitrable characterization of all policy statements about scientific integrity.
Dietrich’s Law The well documented article by William Sanjour about Richard Emory’s revelations to Congress of sweetheart deals made by Department of Justice with violators of environmental laws. See NFFE/NTEU Newsletters Page (Volume 9, No’s 8 and 8A)
In 2006 11 EPA unions signed on to a letter to Administrator Johnson expressing concern that EPA may violate the Food Quality Protection Act by not applying its own Principles of Scientific Integrity to information on organophosphate pesticides. In particular the unions pointed out the need to address the information on developmental neurotoxicity, as required by the FQPA, and they noted EPA’s apparent lack of interest or rigor in dealing with OP exposures via food stuffs. The unions expressed concern that EPA was too accommodating Unions on Organophosphates to agricultural interests and too lax about using the tools and addressing the mandates of the FQPA.
In 1991, during the period when EPA management broke off negotiations on a Code of Ethics and began serious attempts to crush the union (See Volume 7 No. 6 of Inside the Fishbowl), the union convened a meeting in the Rayburn Congressional Office Building among staff members from several key House and Senate Committees and Subcommittees and NFFE Local 2050 scientists. The meeting was to make known concrete examples of subversion of the will of Congress – as expressed in the laws it had written – by some EPA managers, and to make known the union’s resistance. This link is to a compilation of the briefing papers we presented. Congress Staff Briefing 1991
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vol 9 No. 2 No. 3 is missing…
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. 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.