The Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center has violated federal labor laws through a pattern of failing to comply with a federal arbitrator's orders in a series of disputes with employees, the commander of the installation has publicly acknowledged.
Navy Capt. John J. Walsh made the statement at an "All Hands" forum he was ordered to hold by federal arbitrator Hugh D. Jascourt, who has ruled against Indian Head in a number of actions brought against the Navy base by an employees union.
"Stated simply, the agency's conduct violated a number of arbitration awards, some of a long-standing nature, and thus violated the Federal Service Labor Relations Statute," Walsh said.
In a video of the Oct. 25 forum obtained by The Washington Post, a glum-looking Walsh reads a prepared statement acknowledging that Indian Head had failed to follow orders from the arbitrator. "This is a serious matter," Walsh said. "Noncompliance behavior will cease and desist."
Among other violations, Walsh said, a management official displayed discriminatory and retaliatory conduct toward a bargaining unit employee. In addition, management officials at Indian Head knew or should have known about the arbitrator's rulings but failed to take appropriate action, he said.
Indian Head has failed to follow directives with regard to processing of back pay, retroactive processing of promotion actions, and following through on management-directed actions resulting from those awards, Walsh said.
Walsh's statement followed a new decision issued by Jascourt on Oct. 19 that lambasted Indian Head for a continuing failure to follow rulings in arbitration cases.
"In short, what has occurred which is in the purview of this arbitrator reflects a tremendous waste of human resources adversely affecting effective government," Jascourt wrote.
"They don't get it," said William P. Milton Jr., director of representation and education for the local office of the American Federation of Government Employees AFL-CIO Local 1923, which represents 800 workers at Indian Head. "They just dragged their feet and failed to comply with what he ordered."
The Indian Head division announced plans this summer to lay off about 100 workers because of budget cuts, and said that other workers were being offered early retirement. About 3,000 people work at the Navy installation, which is the largest employer in Charles County.
The union claims that the Indian Head command is responsible for the budgetary difficulties because it wasted funds.
Walsh acknowledged a failure to cooperate with the union. "I made a promise to the union in 1997 that I would work hand in hand with the union," Walsh said. "I have not lived up to that promise, and I know that it was wrong."
During the All Hands forum, Walsh was followed by Indian Head technical director Mary Lacey, the top civilian at the installation, who sternly warned managers against tearing down labor relations materials from official bulletin boards, as the union has alleged. Anyone caught doing this in the future will be suspended without pay, Lacey warned.
Chris Adams, a spokeswoman for Indian Head, did not respond to a message requesting comment on Friday.