By Rhonda Apple, Pentagram Staff Writer May 31, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. -First and second line supervisors on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall learned more effective ways to deal with employees during briefing sessions May 29 and 30, at the town hall building on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base.
The briefings were provided by Labor Management Employee Relations Specialists Dietrick L. Glover, Sr. and Alauna D. Fizer, from the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. Also present was attorney Alison McKay from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Glover covered the labor portion of the session and Fizer talked about employee relations. Fizer fielded legal questions.
"Labor management employee relations training you receive today will deal with how we interact with our employees, not only in negative circumstances, but also with regard to rewarding them. It's important to understand that there are methods to modify behavior and in many cases develop the people who work for us. In addition, when we reward our employees we have to be fair with our rewards as well ... You must make sure you are treating everybody fairly and giving everyone an opportunity to achieve their professional goals but also to reward them for a job well done," said JBM-HH Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter, prior to introducing Glover, Fizer and McKay at the May 29 session.
Prior to the briefing, Glover and Fizer spoke with the Pentagram about their work and the role of labor management employee relations specialists.
"I went to [Joint Base] Andrews as a military police training instructor, then was a full-time vice president and chief steward of the American Federation of Government Employees Union, prior to working at my present job at Fort Belvoir." said Glover.
He completed his bachelor's degree in human resource management from University of Phoenix while working for the union and is in the process of completing a second degree in labor relations from National Labor College, Silver Spring, Md.
With a master's degree in community development with a focus in negotiations, Fizer worked on Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. from 2006 to 2013, prior to transferring to Fort Belvoir in March.
Topics covered during the briefing included disciplinary and adverse action and performance management. "As the subject matter experts - Dietrick's background in labor and mine in employee management relations, we'll be able to answer those tough questions about how to deal with issues in the workplace. If management is educated, then employees benefit - and are much happier," Fizer said.
"Our advice comes from years of experience, case studies and the Merit Systems Protection Board." "Our responsibility [as LMER specialists] is to advise management regarding management and employee relations, working with managers on communication in the work place as well as disciplinary actions or any type of issues we facilitate, and help management come to an understanding," Glover explained. "If employees are having issues with managers, we also address those concerns."
He said the briefing informed managers on their duty to bargain. "For example, what it means to change working conditions. We're showing managers how to deal with employees who are covered by a union and how to deal with employees who are not covered by a union - not that they're treated differently. However, there are certain rights employees have who are negotiating.
"Employees who are covered by a union are protected by collective bargaining rights," said Glover. Glover explained the information learned during the briefing will help supervisors recognize what circumstances need to be negotiated and steps to notify LMER of situations with their employees.
"There are many rules, laws, regulations and policies pertaining to federal civilian employees. Our job is to ensure that supervisors and managers abide by them. The briefing includes the opportunity for supervisors to talk about situations they might be dealing with. We give scenarios which might happen in the work place so they have a better understanding of how to handle the situations," said Fizer.
"If an employee is removed incorrectly or unlawfully, the agency can be ordered to reinstate the employee with back pay and interest, along with their thrift savings plan being reinstated. They basically have to be put back to where they were before the removal. These situations, including attorney fees, can get very costly," she said. "Part of our job is to make supervisors aware of the ramifications of their actions if not handled properly. When you show them the financial cost, it gets their attention."
Fizer recalled working on one particular case for the Air Force. "It saved the service $200,000 - just that one case."
She said she enjoys her job and appreciates the opportunity to help educate managers. "We want to help support the mission of the Army and we want employees to enjoy coming to work. Also, the biggest payoff for this briefing is it will save the Department of the Army and JBM-HH a lot of money in the long run. We want to take care of issues before they become a financial burden," said Fizer. "A lot of mistakes supervisors make end up costing the government money."
"This [briefing] should help improve management conditions in the workforce. I personally think this is 'must-have' [information] for supervisor awareness. It will cut back on a lot of EEO complaints, grievances and congressional complaints if we all understand what we can and cannot do. It improves communication and working conditions," Glover said.