Office of Management and Budget employees are voting to form a union -- or not -- on Wednesday and again on Nov. 1.

OMB isn’t a big shop, but it’s an important one. It is part of the executive office of the president, and OMB policies affect all executive branch agencies.

Work there is very demanding, sometimes an all day, all night affair.

“They have a lot of crises and if they have to work 24 hours in a row on a budget matter…they don’t want it taken for granted that home life suffers,” said Peter Winch, deputy director of field services and education at the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

Employees involved in the campaign to join AFGE are keeping a very low profile. None agreed to speak to the Federal Diary, even on a not-for -attribution basis. The labor organizing Web site has no contact information.

The site, however, does include a list of the “top reasons to create a union at OMB.” The primary message that comes through from those reasons is OMB employees want a better work-life balance. Here is the list:

“We want OMB to be the most efficient and effective agency in government and believe that the dedicated employees who work there can be trusted to be a part of creating that success.

We want staff to be represented and have a seat at the table when decisions are being made affected our work and our work-life.

We want fair and equal employee treatment across all Divisions and Branches. Some parts of OMB have found a way to balance employee flexibility with getting our jobs done well. We want to share that success across the organization, and not take away any current flexibilities that some employees already enjoy.

We want to promote our continued efforts of diversity and cultural awareness.

We want fair compensation for extra work hours with a common comp time policy that is fairly used by branch chiefs.

We want flexible work schedules and a formal policy.

We want fair and just working conditions.

We want to improve work environment conditions, office space.

We want to improve our quality of life and our reputation by becoming more efficient at doing our jobs.

We want to reduce our turnover. OMB is not the right place for everyone, but we shouldn’t be losing so many great employees because of basic workplace issues. We can help our management focus on retaining our high quality staff by modernizing some of our employee policies.”

The Web site says 243 of 389 OMB employees are eligible to vote. “OMB probably could have excluded more people than it did,” said Winch, yet those excluded, he added, are “probably more than we wanted.”

Speaking for OMB, Kenneth Baer, the communications director, said, “The administration is a strong supporter of the right of workers to organize. It is up to the people working at any bargaining unit to decide if they want to join a union or not.”


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