A union representing workers at the Indian Head division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center has requested a congressional investigation into its claims of mismanagement, abuse of authority, waste of funds and discrimination by the Navy installation's command.
The American Federation of Government Employees AFL-CIO Local 1923, which represents 800 workers at Indian Head, has sent a petition requesting an audit and investigation of the division to Maryland members of Congress, as well as the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office and the General Accounting Office.
The action follows a recent acknowledgment by Indian Head that the division is planning to lay off approximately 100 workers because of budget cuts, and that other workers are being offered early retirement.
The union claims that the Indian Head command is responsible for the budgetary difficulties because it wasted funds.
"We can't allow government mismanagement to fritter away resources at the expense of government employees," said William P. Milton Jr., director of representation and education for the union's local office.
A letter accompanying the petition from union president John Gage claims that the conduct of Capt. John Walsh, the commander of the Indian Head division, and other supervisors and managers "clearly establishes mismanagement, abuse of authority, a gross waste of funds and discrimination."
Responding to the union's complaint, Chris Adams, a spokeswoman for the Indian Head division, said that "the command's position is to do whatever is in the best interest of the work force."
She said the division would be "responsive" to any inquiries that might be launched.
The office of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D), who represents Indian Head, has not reviewed the petition, according to an aide.
To support the union's case, the petition includes a copy of a decision issued by an arbitrator on June 14 regarding several labor grievances at Indian Head. Arbitrator Hugh Jascourt wrote that in failing to comply with previous arbitration orders that said the base owed back wages, plus interest, to employees, "the agency's conduct is contrary to the interest of effective government and a gross waste of funds."
Jascourt also wrote that Indian Head has violated previous arbitrator rulings regarding the cases and "that such violations have been a continuous pattern of conduct."
The union claims that it has lost only two of 50 cases in which the division has denied workers' grievances and the cases have gone to an arbitrator.
"The reason they don't have any money is because of all the labor disputes that they've been losing," Milton said. Union officials say the base has spent $3 million defending its practices in those cases.
The petition also cites a survey in which 150 union employees responded to a questionnaire. According to the results, 84 percent of the employees claimed that promotions are based on favoritism, disparity or discrimination, 78 percent believe that they are not recognized for their performance, 79 percent believe that they have not received training or career development opportunities, and 80 percent believe that supervisors and managers do not respond effectively to employee complaints and concerns.
"Things aren't getting any better," Milton said. "Things are getting worse."