David T. Duncan, the southeast regional administrator for federal jobs program, tried to fire up the troops last month.
Today, because he allegedly cursed them in the process, some of those troops are trying to get him fired.
According to transcripts of a regional Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program meeting held June 25 in Atlanta, Duncan used four-letter words and epithets to threaten, intimidate and otherwise "urge" about 25 CETA directors to do more to increase public service employment rolls in their areas.
Duncan, who is based in Atlanta, said in a telephone interview that he had felt frustrated because his region had fallen 20,000 hirings behind a projected total of 108,000 public service positions, to have been filled by the end of June.
Copies of the transcript of the June 25 meeting - whose accuracy Duncan as well as other sources verified were sent to the Department of Labor, Capitol Hill, several southern states.
Ernest Green, assistant secretary for employment and training in the Department of Labor, said this week that "a formal letter of reprimand is going into Mr. Duncan's file" in connection with the incident.
"It was an unfortunate thing to have happen. His comments were in poor tast . . . They guy is very cabable. He knows the system. But, well, he was somewhat overzealous and he didn't use much tact as he should have," Green said.
Green added that Duncan himself has sent a formal letter of apology to everyone who attended the meeting. He added that there are no plans to dismiss Duncan.
"It seems to me that the formal reprimand and the apology should help to resolve the issue," Green said.
However, many of those who attended the June 25 meeting and who are still smarting from Duncan's remarks, said yesterday they haave no intention of dropping the issue. They have enlisted the aid of lacal elected officials and others in pushing for Duncan's dismissal.
"The purpose of the meeting was to discuss problems in meeting public service employment hiring quotas in our region," said Roy Batchelor, consultant to Mayor Patrick Rose of Chattanooga, Tenn.
"But when the meeting had ended, we were all stunned. The open abuse that this man gave to us and to our elected officials was repulsive . . . He has damaged himself personally to the point where he cannot remain in his position," Batchelor said.
According to the transcript, Duncan made the following remarks:
"You bastards and bitches are drawing big fat salaries while the people out there are being f-----."
"We've got human beings depending on us to do something for them, and you're dragging a--.".t"I want you to know that I don't give a damn about what happens to any of you. But I am cancerned about the people this program is suppoosed to serve . . Some of you don't give a s---."
"Dave was concerned that funding for those (20,000 public service) positions would be lost if they aren't filled. And there is a lot of structural (long term) unemployment in the southeastern region, especially among blacks."
In his letter of apology, made available by Labor Department sources, Duncan said his comments at the meeting "were, obviously, in poor taste and did not convey the thoughts and concerns I wished to convey.
"I hope that this error in judgment on my part does not jeopardize our ability to work together.