The week President Clinton took office, the head of a federal employees union sent Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros a list of agency workers the group claimed were anti-union, racist or aligned with Republicans.
These workers, most of them career senior managers, could pose a “blocking mechanism” to the new administration’s policies, warned the report from American Federation of Government Employees president John N. Sturdivant.
Since then, all but two of the 13 Housing and Urban Development employees on the AFGE list have been reassigned, given fewer responsibilities or left the agency, according to HUD officials. The union list was obtained by The Associated Press.
The agency said it did not solicit the list or use it improperly, and said any personnel changes were a coincidental result of efforts to make the agency smaller and more efficient. No one’s pay was cut.
“We pride ourselves on being fair, and we just do not operate in the manner that would concur with any of this,” said Frank D. Wing, a senior adviser to Cisneros who received the report and wrote Sturdivant a “thank you” letter.
“As far as I’m concerned, there has not been an adverse action taken against any one on this list,” Wing said.
“I can go down that list and tell you, the ones that we’ve had anything to do with, I think they’re highly professional and they’ve done their job,” he said.
In an interview this week, Sturdivant defended the list, saying it was “part of working with the administration that we helped elect.”
In interviews, some workers on the list say they experienced difficulties with the Clinton administration but were unaware of the AFGE report and now wonder whether it may have played a role.
Eleven of those on the list were career workers who by law are supposed to be free from political pressures. Nearly all the job changes occurred in the first 20 months of the Clinton administration.
“Accepting a ‘hit list’ from the union is poor management, shows poor judgment, and in my opinion is unethical,” said Walter G. Sevier, a now-retired HUD official who was described in the list as a “reported racist and anti-union” manager.