IRS has announced that they will be closing the Cincinnati Submission Processing Center by 2019. Cincinnati is one of three centers that will close, the others being Fresno and Austin.
NTEU73 President Rick Riley received a conference call this morning informing him of the closing from NTEU National President Tony Reardon. Mr. Reardon had been informed by the IRS earlier.
NTEU cannot negotiate this type of move, but it can negotiate impact and implementation.
The closing will eventually cost 1,826 jobs here in Covington, all in Submission Processing. Currently there are 1,115 permanent employees, 686 seasonal employees and 26 part time employees. Most of them are grade 6 and below.
Reduction in Force (RIF) is covered in Article 19 of the NTEU-IRS contract.
Upon hearing the news, Mr. Riley convened a staff meeting and the union is already gearing up an effort to inform members of Congress and local politicians and see what can be done from that angle. There have been times in the past, such as in Detroit, that because of political activity, closures have been stopped.
NTEU believes that the IRS decision to ramp down Submission Processing operations at Covington is a mistake. NTEU73 will be getting a national office briefing with the other affected NTEU leaders at the affected sites of Fresno and Austin in an attempt to get answers to many of the questions about this unfair IRS decision.
“The NTEU National President has committed to put all our resources to fight this,” said Mike McAuley, NTEU Chief Council of the Chicago Field Office. “And I can guarantee you there will be a fight. While I don’t know what the final outcome will be, I do know that we will keep you informed, bargain to the maximum extent, reach out to our friends and to all who will listen that this is a bad decision for the employees, the taxpayer and the local economy. I will ask for your help as we are all in this together and we are not alone.”
At this point there are many more questions than answers, but it should be understood that this action is being taken unilaterally by IRS, without involving NTEU.
“This is horrible news and come unexpectedly,” said NTEU73 President Rick Riley. “The silver lining is that we have three years to prepare for the eventual shutdown if we cannot get it stopped. I would urge everyone affected to act now and update your resume on USA jobs. I would urge you not to wait to try to find other employment. IRS will look to other agencies to absorb some of the folks, but you have to also help yourself.”
“After several months of carefully considering important factors like the impact to our employees, cost savings, lease expirations and building conditions, we have decided to consolidate and close the Submission Processing operations in Covington, Kentucky in 2019, Fresno, California in 2021, and Austin, Texas in 2024,” IRS Submission Processing Director Linda Brown said in a memo, announcing the closure of the centers at 11am this morning. “Each consolidation would occur near the end of the respective fiscal year. To support this transition and minimize employee impact going forward, this fall we’ll be hiring only temporary and term employees in Covington and Fresno Submission Processing Centers for the upcoming filing seasons.”
NTEU has been assured by IRS, as were employees in Ms. Brown’s letter, which they will work with NTEU to assure possible transitions to other IRS jobs, even as the union was not included in the decision.
Management will meet with employees next week to answer as many questions as possible and the union will be there. In addition, NTEU73 will keep you informed as new information becomes available.
“I found out only a couple of hours before the employees did,” said Mr. Riley. “We certainly have a lot of questions, as I am sure employees do, and they will be answered in time. I would ask employees to be patient in this difficult time and we will keep you informed as soon as we hear anything. We are going to set up a special tent at the Labor Recognition celebration next week. I will be there along with our attorney, Will Igoe to answer as many questions as we can. I understand some of the meetings management will be holding will be the same day. So we are going to spread thin that day. But we will get answers. Our Legislative Coordinator and National Vice President Debbie Mullikin will also be at Labor Recognition with a petition to members of Congress that we will be asking everyone to sign. That is a start. And I will be in constant contact with our attorneys, the National President and our elected representatives to make sure we are doing absolutely everything we can to give as many employees as we can a soft landing.”
There have been rumors of the center closing for years. This closure will only affect Submission Processing and not other jobs in the Gateway Center.
It is unclear whether the fourth Street building will be closed completely, where people will be moved that retain jobs or whether any buy-outs will be offered.
Employees are urged to read Article 19 of the contract to get an idea about what is involved in a RIF.