In an attempt to further support the failing National Border Patrol Strategy, the Border Patrol decided to waste millions of dollars to construct permanent Forward Operating Bases (FOB) in the Tucson, Yuma, and El Paso sectors. The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) believes FOBs are an enormous waste of taxpayer money for numerous reasons, some of which are documented later in this article. If FOBs are going to be constructed without regard to their effectiveness, then the NBPC believes the Border Patrol should be required to construct the FOBs in accordance with regulations designed for permanent government housing and Border Patrol stations, not regulations designed for temporary migrant worker camps. Finally, the Border Patrol should be forced to cease operations at all FOBs until the Border Patrol properly addresses the serious safety and security issues that currently exist at the FOBs or the Border Patrol will not be able to falsely claim they were unaware of the unsafe conditions that exist if and when one of our agents are injured or killed while assigned to the FOBs.
In response to some unscrupulous managers who are trying to provoke bargaining unit employees by making misleading statements about the grievance that was filed regarding the base-layer clothing, the following clarification is provided by the Union:
Initially, the Union emphasizes that it supports optional base-layer clothing, and has supported the concept of optional crew neck undershirts for years. The Union did not ask management to cease and desist from offering base-layer clothing, but had to file the grievance to force the Agency to fulfill its statutory obligation to bargain with the Union so that the legitimate concerns outlined herein can be addressed. Chief Aguilar's failure to follow the law and the contract in this instance is not just a technical violation; it goes to the heart of a labor-management relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The Agency consistently ignores its legal obligations in an attempt to marginalize the Union and cause dissent and division. The Union does not believe that it is unreasonable to expect the head of a law enforcement agency to follow the law. We all know what happens to an agent who violates a Federal statute or policy. Why should managers be held to a lower standard? If Chief Aguilar would lead by example, Sector Chiefs would follow.
Chief Aguilar claims that uniformity is the reason the base-layer clothing items are green, however, he cannot explain how this is achieved when one agent is wearing a green crew neck t-shirt and another agent is wearing a black turtle-neck. Similarly, he cannot explain how this goal is accomplished when the various green uniform items fade and agents are wearing several shades of green. Although color is not the primary issue for the Union, it is concerned that the exact shade required by the Agency may not be available outside of the uniform vendor. Additionally, one really has to wonder about the importance of uniformity in the color of underpants. While most supervisors are reasonable, we all know that there are some supervisors who have nothing better to do than make an issue out of the color of the base-layer clothing items. The Union wants to avoid these potential problems now and make sure that the issue is properly addressed for the future.
Does anyone understand why management would require base-layer clothing items to be made of only one material? The Union recognizes that a moisture wicking material is important to those who work in hotter climates, but cotton and/or cotton blends should be options for those who work in moderate climates or who just prefer such materials.
As we all know, the authorized uniform vendor (currently VF Solutions) typically charges far more than a local or online retailer because it has a monopoly. This has been an ongoing concern for the Union.The cost of the base-layer clothing is a prime example of this problem. The least expensive base-layer clothing item, the short sleeve level 1 base-layer crew neck t-shirt, costs $24.64, or $147.84 for a set of six. A popular online retailer sells olive drab green crew-neck t-shirts for only $4.00 apiece, or $24.00 for a half-dozen.
The Union does not want to delay the implementation of the new base-layer clothing uniform items over these issues, and has offered to allow the initiative to move forward if the Agency authorizes employees to wear olive drab green crew-neck t-shirts of any material acquired from any source and offers a couple of lower-cost alternatives through the uniform vendor. The Union is still awaiting management's response.
Some agents recently received an invitation to complete an online survey that is supposed to assist management in determining why about a third of all new employees leave during their first several years on the job. If management really wants to know why these employees left, why don't they ask them instead of their colleagues who are still here? (Half of the survey questions seek opinions regarding why such employees left.)
Also, if management was sincere about this project, why didn't it collaborate with the Union? If you need a short break from your patrol duties and opt to complete management's worthless survey, you should decline to provide your name and Academy class number, as these can be used to identify you in case some manager takes a dim view of any candid comments or suggestions you might make and decides to retaliate against you.