Employes at the Department of Energy and the soon to be abolished Community Services Administration have filed independent court actions alleging that their agencies are improperly conducting reductions-in-force (RIFs) to comply with Reagan administration budget cuts.
CSA employes, all 950 of whom are scheduled to lose their jobs on Sept. 30, will have a hearing today in federal District Court on their request for a temporary restraining order to halt the RIFs. The National Council of CSA Locals, the American Federation of Government Employes affiliate that filed the suit, contends the CSA employes and their antipoverty functions should be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services before any personnel reductions are carried out.
A union spokesman said yesterday that legislation abolishing CSA stipulated that its programs should continue for the coming year until new antipoverty duties are assumed at the state level. Transfer to HHS would give CSA employes a chance to compete for existing jobs there.
At the Energy Department, where 971 employes are expected to lose jobs by Sept. 25, employes at the Economic Regulatory Administration have asked a federal judge for an injunction against RIFs at that office. The National Treasury Employes Union, which represents DOE workers, contends any lay-offs set for Sept. 25 would hamper enforcement of regulations against overcharges by oil and gas companies. The agency declined to comment on the suit.
The issue of Energy Department RIFs and how they are being conducted surfaced at a House subcommittee hearing yesterday, as several congressmen queried Energy officials about how the staff reductions would affect energy conservation programs. Panel members also expressed concern that some employes have not received separation notices even though they are only eight days away from termination.
DOE's personnel chief, J. Merle Schulman, and Dr. Robert San Martin, representing DOE's Office of Conservation and Renewable Energy, assured the Subcommittee on Energy Development and Applications that the RIFs were being conducted in compliance with federal requirements. Schulman said uncertainty about final budget provisions had contributed to delays in RIF planning.
And, despite recurring speculation that the department will be abolished, the Energy officials said the agency expects to carry out conservation and other programs during the next fiscal year.
But Ron Bowes, a union shop steward and a grants program analyst at the agency, said afterward that DOE has relied "on mass re-organization and upheaval in hopes the attrition rate will be so high that the coming RIFs won't be as dramatic." Morale for those leaving and for those staying "couldn't be worse," he said.