Disappointment in the Agency’s Priorities

NTEU is extremely disappointed in the Agency’s recent decision to hire three Grade 5 Auditors at the NRC and another Management Analyst.
Management has repeatedly claimed to NTEU and the bargaining unit employees that they cannot hire or fill behind clerks and specialists leaving the agency at the NRC for various reasons, budget being only one of those. The Grade 5 Auditors are brand new positions that have never existed in the NRC. This is not only harmful for the remaining employees who are already so overwhelmed with work that they have given up on ever getting caught up and expect to continually slide further and further behind, but will be also detrimental to the industry and the agency. The agency’s plan to utilize Permits-on-Line as a way to get more work with less people seems unlikely based on the first roll out of the system for Basic Permits and Wineries. Furthermore, this action by the Agency appears to demonstrate the low regard that they have for the employees at the NRC and that the recent visit by the Administrator and Deputy Administration was simply “window dressing.”

NTEU has attempted repeatedly to discuss and determine exactly what the Auditor positions are all about and so far all we have received is a verbal statement that they will be running Discover Reports to advise the employees how far behind they are in their assignments. It should be noted that they already have employees on staff for this and currently specialists are already running Discover Reports for this and are well aware of the backlog. They are also acutely aware that the amount of current work already assigned and being assigned far exceeds what can be accomplished during regular duty hours. We have heard from employees who have been keeping statistics using these reports that for each work item they complete, two more come in to replace that item. This puts the NRC on a slow and steady downward spiral on actually completing the work in a timely and professional manner.

The fact that this situation has been brewing for over the last 3-5 years reflects one thing: management is not concerned with either their employees or their industry members. The industry needs for our agency to assist them in getting into business and making updates necessary to expand their business and their brands; however, due to the ever increasing back log of work and the ever decreasing number of employees to do the work, we are unable to provide this necessary service to our industry. In addition, with our national deficit, we cannot collect taxes on alcohol and tobacco until they are put into business and slowing down business slows down the revenue collected by the Treasury Department contributing to our deficit.

The only thing the agency has going for it at the present is that employees are working faster and harder, giving up breaks and lunch and, according to some reports, working off duty without compensation. We have repeatedly advised management of the race horse theory which is “You can race a horse full speed for short periods; however if you try to run a race horse it’s fastest for a thousand or more miles, the horse will drop dead before the finish line”. The clerks and specialists at the NRC have been running their fastest for about 5 years and now they are starting to feel the results of being overworked for so long.

Another partnership council meeting is scheduled for July. Even though the agency has not been acting as a partner through many of these changes, the chapter will attend the meeting and will attempt to champion the concerns of the employees and this issue will be discussed in detail. If you would like to add any information for us to take to the partnership meeting, please submit to
G. Renee Yankey, Tim Foster or Tomika Moore no later than July 10, 2011.