Contact: Drew Halunen, Legislative Director June 7, 2016                                                       

Phone: (202) 716-2204

Olympia, Wash. – Today, members of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), representing 110,000 federal workers nation-wide, including more than 20,000 U.S.D.A. Forest Service (USFS) employees, are shining a light on the Forest Service (via informational hand-billing) for using an unfair hiring practice for which the USFS Chief Tom Tidwell was recently admonished during a Congressional hearing.

At a hiring event in Olympia, Wash. today and tomorrow, the Forest Service is hiring for jobs across the country, as far away as South Dakota and Kentucky.  The catch is, applicants must appear and submit their applications in person in Olympia, Wash.  Applicants who are unable to attend in person will not be considered for these jobs, regardless of their experience.  Among the candidates eliminated from consideration are current USFS employees—many of whom have a great deal of experience and are the most qualified to fill these vacancies—that simply do not have the means or cannot get away from their current obligations to apply for these jobs in-person.

“In April, Chief Tidwell assured Congress that applicants should be able to send applications in to be considered during job fairs, but that is not happening,” said Lisa Wolfe, NFFE Forest Service Council Vice President. “By requiring interested applicants to appear in person, the Forest Service has effectively eliminated applicants from the rest of the country. That is not fair to current employees or other applicants living in those areas. It also makes it impossible for the Forest Service to field the best pool of applicants. Anyone who cares about healthy forests or having an effective government workforce should want to see this hiring practice stopped immediately.”

The presence of NFFE at this hiring event in Olympia follows many months of effort by NFFE to convince the USFS to end its flawed hiring practice, like today’s event. The Forest Service continues to use of this competition-limiting hiring practice even after USFS Chief Tidwell testified before Congress, stating that the agency “need[s] to make sure that folks have an opportunity so that we can look at the full candidate pool.”

“We cannot stand idly by as the Forest Service continues a hiring practice that is unfair to potential applicants, is bad for the agency, and ultimately short-changes American taxpayers,” said Lisa Wolfe. “People should not be expected to travel halfway across the country to compete for a job that pays less than 14 dollars an hour. This hiring practice is ridiculous, and it needs to stop.”

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Established in 1917, the National Federation of Federal Employees is the oldest union representing civil service federal employees.  NFFE represents 110,000 federal employees in 35 departments and agencies government-wide, including the majority of federal wildland firefighters. NFFE is affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO. For more information, go to www.nffe.org.