FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. WHEN, HOW OFTEN AND WHERE DO YOU HOLD YOUR GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS?
Our chapter membership meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month and our Executive Committee meets on the third Tuesday of each month.
2. WHY SHOULD I JOIN BIG WHEN I CAN REAP THE BENEFITS (E.G. ATTENDING THE NTI AND AGENCY CHAPTER EVENTS) WITHOUT BEING A MEMBER?
BIG’s annual National Training Institute (NTI) is more expensive to attend for nonmembers than it is for members. It is true that there are some BIG benefits that are available to members and nonmembers alike, that is by design. We want prospective members and our agency officials to see the positive benefits and programs that BIG provides to local, state, and federal employees. However, there are many BIG benefits that do require membership such as the Darlene Young Leadership Academy, the Attorney Assistance (grant) program, and college scholarships sponsored by some of our corporate sponsors (e.g. Grantham University and Management Concepts). Nonmembers also miss out on a wealth of mentoring and networking opportunities that come with attending chapter, regional, and national events, many of which only members receive information about. More importantly, as a member, you would be able to help shape exactly what BIG offers to you and the generation of employees coming behind you. The more members we have, the more services we will be able to provide and benefit from as a greater community within the BIG family.
3. WHY SHOULD I JOIN BIG WHEN I AM ALREADY A MEMBER OF THE UNION?
Agency unions are very important and BIG does not seek to supplant them or compete with them. On the contrary, it is our goal to work hand in hand with unions and other employee resource organizations to help employees have all the tools that they need to succeed. As such BIG serves a broader role than unions as we provide a broader level of advocacy by offering career developing training, mentoring, information on personal growth and wellness and networking opportunities in addition to the traditional advocacy that unions provide.
4. HOW DO I RESPOND WHEN SOME ASK “WHAT IF I STARTED AND ORGANIZATION CALLED WHITES IN GOVERNMENT”?
One of BIG’s goals is to continue to work to eradicate discrimination from the workplace. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and its amendments the enforcement of acts of discrimination apply equally to all races and identified protected classes. Historically, white employees have not had the same need for such an organization as BIG and the statistical data support the position that black employees still to this day 40+ years after BIG was started are underrepresented in mid to high level positions throughout the government. It would be naïve to think that in 1975 when BIG was first created and in 1976 when it was incorporated, that even our government was welcoming African Americans into their careers with open arms or with the equal ability to be hired, trained, promoted, and retained. So, BIG was founded to address the racially motivated discrimination that black employees in the government faced. Yes, of course, the world has changed a great deal since 1975 and so has BIG. Our organization has always been one that welcomed and continues to welcome members of all races. The world has grown and so has BIG and we continue to grow our training, mentoring, networking, and advocacy programs to address the changing needs of a changed work place. We continue to fill in the gaps and address the unfulfilled needs of federal, state, and local employees of any race who wants to take advantage of what we have to offer.
5. AGENCIES ARE REQUIRED TO TRAIN THEIR EMPLOYEES, BUT MY SUPERVISORS WON'T LET ME ATTEND THE NTI. IS THAT DISCRIMINATION?
OPM regulations do in fact require agencies to establish and maintain training programs designed “to assist in achieving an agency’s mission and performance goals by improving employee and organizational performance”. Those regulations do, however, allow agencies some discretion in designing those programs and in approving training for individual employees. So, whether or not discrimination exists depends on the facts and circumstances. Have you requested and been allowed to attend other training efforts but not the BIG training? Are others receiving approval to attend external training efforts but not the BIG training? Ultimately, if you believe you are being discriminated against, you should seek written documentation that sets out the criteria for how training requests are approved and make the case that those criteria are being applied differently to the annual BIG training. It’s always easier to show discrimination when you have data (in this case on training approvals) and when you have criteria for how decisions are being made. So, see what you can find out and contact the BIG Parklawn EEO Chair, AnthonyW.LeeJD@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the matter in more detail if you believe you are not being treated equally in the workplace.
8. CAN I EARN CLP'S FOR YOUR LUNCH & LEARNS OR OTHER LOCAL TRAINING PROGRAMS OR INITIATIVES?
Yes, at both the Regional Training Conference and the National Training Institute, CLPs may be earned for coursed offered by BIG.
10. WHO PROVIDED ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS 2, 3, 4, & 5?
A number of BIG members provided input into the answers to these questions including , Ms. Shirley A. Jones ESQ, Region XI, and Mr. Anthony W. Lee, President, BIG Parklawn Chapter.