One of the many mysteries at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals – besides where is our Chairman – is what happened to employees’ bonuses for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The Union continues to ask this question on your behalf, and we continue to get the same response: We don’t know. They do know, however, if you’re not “green” for the week.
The 2022 performance year ended 7 months ago. Such a delay defeats the purpose of a bonus as a positive reinforcement for a job well done. And by the way, this is not a department-wide problem. The Union learned that VBA employees received their bonuses on December 23, 2022, less than 2 months after the performance year ended and in time for the holidays. It is no coincidence that the Union receives few complaints from VBA – where the Union has good relations with upper mgt – while most of our resources go to addressing the many problems at the Board. These problems, created largely by a lack of leadership and mismanagement, will not be resolved until Secretary McDonough decides to intervene and change the Board’s leadership team.
Over the past several years, upper management has demoralized the Board’s workforce by (1) hiring VLJs with no Veterans law experience, thus limiting career opportunities for our best attorneys; (2) downgrading the attorney position from a GS-14 to a GS-13; (3) increasing the quota while attempting to eliminate issue counting; (4) misinterpreting performance standards to require attorneys to meet their pro rata goal every week; and (5) implementing performance standards for a group of administrative professionals without fulfilling their bargaining obligations under federal law and our collective bargaining agreement. So why would you think that upper management cares about your bonus? It will be interesting to see their bonuses, as the Union has asked for this information under the Freedom of Information Act. (That information will be shared with our members, so we encourage you to join if you have not yet done so www.joinafge.org).
AFGE Local 17 is advocating to change the Board’s leadership. But we need your help. Please email the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs. If you’re a member of AFGE Local 17, you’ll find an email sent last Friday allowing you to send a pre-drafted letter to the Committees. Otherwise, please use the email address I sent out last week. I’ve been surprised and heartened that many of you have voiced your concerns to Congress by sending emails, but we need more participants. Secretary McDonough is very responsive to Congressional pressure.
And don’t forget, YOUR VOICE can also be heard by using Rate My Supervisor, where you can leave anonymous comments for the Board’s leadership team, including the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and the Deputy Vice Chairmen. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org for a password. Please join by visiting www.joinafge.org.
Douglas E. Massey, Esq.