T H E   N I H   C A T A L Y S T     S E P T E M B E R   –  O C T O B E R   2003



Jacque Ballard (foreground, right), president of the NIH chapter of Blacks in Government, addresses a noontime rally July 17 protesting A-76. A sea of signs proclaim such sentiments as "A-76 A Weapon of Mass Distraction" and "A-76 Bush, Not Federal Workers."

Displays at NIH are usually in the form of scientific poster presentations, and protests at NIH (rare) are usually conducted by outside groups. But on July 17, the demonstrators were NIH employees, and the poster boards on display decried the A-76 competitive outsourcing process.

A month after a Town Hall meeting that had been dominated by employee concerns about A-76 (see "Bread-and-Butter Dominates Director’s Town Hall Meeting," The NIH Catalyst, July–August 2003), the demonstration revealed continuing dismay over the speed with which competitive outsourcing is being carried out and the potential loss of jobs.

Organized by the local branch of the American Federation of Government Employees and the NIH chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG), the event was billed as an informational rally.

Jacque Ballard, NCI, president of the BIG chapter, noted that for 2002, 466 vacant positions had simply been contracted out, affecting no current NIH employees. The 2003 omplement of jobs on the line, however, affects 1,000 NIH employees in grants technical support and real estate property management—"mostly blue-collar workers, minorities, and women," Ballard said in a speech. More of the same is slated for 2004 and 2005, she said.

As the Catalyst went to press, the House had passed an amendment to an appropriations bill, submitted by Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), that would thwart the administration’s A-76 plans. The Senate had not addressed the issue.


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