Federal Employees News Digest
NOAA management move raises protests from fed unions scientific orgs
- By Nathan Abse
- Sep 16, 2019
In the middle of Hurricane Dorian’s dangerous and damaging track from the heavily-damaged Bahamas up the Southeastern U.S. coastline, the White House let fly a now famous, magic-marker scrawled image on top of an official agency prediction map—and a story—that the National Weather Service had predicted deep into the storm’s course possibly damaging outcomes in the state of Alabama.
That story has been roundly rejected as untrue, most tellingly by the agency’s own Birmingham, AL office. What followed has been more insistence by the White House that the incorrect story is instead true—and a lot of upset from federal employees who saw the event as a textbook case of inappropriate political interference in civil service work.
The matter is now the subject of endless news stories and some investigations.
The employees’ union, for its part—and other federal unions—stand strong at press time asserting their protests against such interference.
“As employees of NOAA, we are blessed to have the jobs we have,” Dan Sobien, head of the National Weather Service Employees Organization said in a statement. “Few people can come home from work knowing they helped so many people.”
“Whether your job is protecting lives and property, protecting ecosystems, gathering data for people protecting lives, property and ecosystems or you are part of the administrative staff without which no one else can do their jobs you can hang your head high today,” Sobien said. “You are members of the most effective, professional team in the Federal Government, actually in the world.”
“Recently NOAA management did not show support to one of its NWS forecast offices, a forecast office that was doing what was right, that is unfortunate,” Sobien noted. “But remember we work for the American public and we have the overwhelming support of the American Public. So, hold your heads high, you have the support of the people and press as well as members of the Weather Enterprise from all across the country.”
Major scientific organizations also joined in the din of protest against the White House’s continued peddling of the story—a story that painted NOAA and NWS employees in an unfairly uncomplimentary light.
“Multiple investigations are being opened into a NOAA statement criticizing a National Weather Service social media message that contradicted one from President Trump about the track of Hurricane Dorian,” the American Institute of Physics said in a statement. “The White House reportedly pressured the agency via the Commerce Department to repudiate its forecasters' messaging.”