My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Update: Former 2010 Census workers speak out in Fresno

Looks like Fresno is in more and more trouble every day. Thanks to the local CBS affiliate for the following:

By Tony Botti

Former workers of our local US Census Bureau offices banded together on Wednesday at a Fresno park to tell the media their stories of alleged discrimination, not receiving pay and being wrongfully terminated.

The issue goes deeper then the people being fired for questioning the ethics of their superiors; it’s believed that management’s desire to cut corners, could skew the population count that comes out at the end of the year.

Former census worker Craig Baltz was not fired from his job but says he personally witnessed misconduct. “I saw many instances of mistreatment of employees and poor management decisions that lead to a questionable count of the population,” Baltz said.

The accusations go against everything the census is about, to capture our region’s exact population count, so we can compete for federal funds.

The former workers say upper management basically took the critical task of gathering an exact count and turned it into a contest with the goal of speed and not accuracy.

The former employees say this type of environment left them facing a dilemma. “…turn in accurate work not meeting the goal and face termination or falsify work and be praised and rewarded with more work and continued employment,” said Mary Costell. Mary was fired and says she felt she was fighting a losing battle.

The former workers say they are not disgruntled because they never intended to make a career at the Census Bureau and knew the jobs were temporary.

What has them most upset is that by being terminated, they are now eliminated from ever working for the federal government again.

Several departments in Washington D.C. are now investigating these complaints. If evidence is found to back the worker’s stories, they will file a lawsuit.

In response to the allegations, the U.S. Census Bureau issued the following statement: “We immediately took action upon learning about these allegations coming from the Fresno area. It appears that all procedures and protocols have been followed. As the Inspector General and Government Accountability Office are always alerted any time there are questions, concerns or allegations; we are cooperating with them and will keep doing so going forward.”

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26 Responses to “Update: Former 2010 Census workers speak out in Fresno”

  1. George J. Wilberg Says:

    Aha this “blog” about Fresno only indicates that the mismanagement and illegal terminations are widespread. My hat is off for those brave souls who decided that they were not going to take this anymore! I wish them well in their quest for justice……

  2. Al Forteni Says:

    Evidence that the LA Regional Director, James Christy and Deputy Regional Director, Julie Lam-Ly knew early this year of the serious problems in Fresno and Salinas caused by Araceli Barcelo and Jeff Enos and that these two officials did nothing has been sent to the Central Valley and Central Coast Congressional Offices

  3. pranita veeria Says:

    It’s a symptom of RCC’s that nothing is done when concerns are brought up like those in Fresno…just look at the nonsense that was turned a blind eye to, like those incompetents from the NYRCC…are you listening ARCM ???

  4. Anonymous2010 Says:

    Glad this is coming out. Question – Which departments in Washington D.C. are investigating this? Who will file the lawsuit? A department or the former Census employees? Please give more info.
    Thanks

    “Several departments in Washington D.C. are now investigating these complaints. If evidence is found to back the worker’s stories, they will file a lawsuit.”

  5. DontBHatinEnumeratin Says:

    Guess I’m very very fortunate. 11th 40 hour week ending tomorrow, that’s 440 hours over four months of work … the best CLs, CLAs and FOS in LA. No one is complaining, no one wrongly terminated … we’ve been either 1 or 2 in our district and ahead in every operation and we’ve been treated well. No one is on our backs and we’re just expected to do what we’re hired to do, perform the tasks at hand. It’s been a great ride. I feel it’s ending soon, though … gonna miss it.

  6. anonymous kid Says:

    The Wage & Hour Division of the Department of Labor ought to be contacted about some of the practices of the Census Bureau as well. They have a “No Overtime Policy”, yet they set deadlines which are impossible to meet without working more than 40 hours. If you claim the extra time, you are fired. I have been in the private sector and have been investigated for much less than this and I cannot imagine the W&HD reaction if I told them I utilized a practice such as this one. Of course, this would be the government overseeing the government.

    And then there is this disciplinary process. The first step is called a “warning”, however, you do not have to inform the recipient of this “warning” and if they commit the violation again (the one you did not inform them them of), you can then terminate the employee.

    Sounds like a form of government other than democracy if you ask me.

  7. Anonymous2010 Says:

    @anonymous kid – Thanks for your post. About disciplinary action – who has oversight and can hold the Census Bureau accountable for its disciplinary violations, as you describe. My understanding is that Census Bureau employees have no recourse (that is, if it’s there’s no discrimination issue). Any more info? (
    Thanks

  8. DontBHatinEnumeratin Says:

    You do have a point, Anonymous Kid, I know that I’ve worked more than 40 hours in a week in order to maintain my good standing in hopes of getting another “40 hour week.” Don’t ever recall having to do that on another job. The hourly is good, however. It balances out to the point of where no one including myself sees it as a major violation. Those who do have already quit.

  9. anonymous kid Says:

    OK, DontBHatinEnumeratin (AKA Pollyanna), I hear ‘ya, loud and clear. When those Nazi’s knock on your door, you will just go right along with them and then wait for others to come and rescue you. My point is that when my government requires that I (a private sector employer) treat my employees in ways that are consistent with fundamental DEMOCRATIC values of fairness, I am SHOCKED they are so bold to NOT conduct themselves in the same manner. Now you can say, “Well, I’m just happy to be here and have a job, so that’s OK”, but you had better thank God there are others around that can think a little deeper than that and make some effort to stop it before it gets totally out of hand.

    About the terminations, these folks ought to be able to get that off their record somehow if it would keep them from getting another job. As far as being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, the majority of the terminations will never count against the employee. You see, the standards for the employer to follow are pretty high – warnings in writing and signed by the employee and on and on and on – to give the employee every possible chance to improve. Very few of the Census Bureau terminations are going to keep people from being qualified for benefits. The state agency will conduct a hearing on the phone if they need to and CB will lose most of the time. However, regardless of the qualification for benefits, you still have a termination on your record which you may have to report at some point in the future.

    No lawyer is going to take a case like this – it is all about money, rather than just right and wrong – so I would simply flood your Congressman with phone calls and e-mails, insisting that you were terminated without the proper amount of cause or DUE PROCESS (yes, another fundamental democratic value)and ask them to make the CB review cases when requested and reverse when appropriate – using the same standards that the government requires of private industry.

    Hey, I hear the rumor that CB came in under budget. Now they can employ people to review the many mistakes they made in how they treated their employees with often arbitrary terminations.

  10. anonymous kid Says:

    Let me make another point. I understand these jobs are temporary rather than permanent and therefore, much like the difference between being a bride and a hooker. So, of course, the rules and standards of behavior are different with the CB jobs and it is somewhat necessary because there is not much time because of the deadlines involved.

    However, to create these rules about overtime and termination is wrong any way you look at it. As an AM, I had to terminate folks because they went a mere 15 minutes into overtime due to a mathematical error. No exceptions, they were terminated. I asked if I could let them resign (which in all cases they would have) but the rule said no.

    Add to that some power-happy managers that thought the firing duty was the coolest part of their job and enjoyed making some unbelievably arbitrary decisions, then the CB has created a disaster for which it should be held accountable.

  11. Tellitlikeitis Says:

    All this stuff is condone by the RCC…the people that should be investigated and held accountable are the RD, ARCM and AM. All these fraudulent tactics that are happing (especially in N YC) is condone by the Area Managers….who report to the Asst Regional Census Manager….who reports to the Regional Director. What are they telling the RD at those Thursday Management Meetings???? Its definetly not how the managers in Bklyn got castrated by the Area Manager (by the way Bklyn, you got another problematic AM, he’s no better). It’s definetly not how the conference calls are all about multi-tasking cell phone calls, menstrual cycles, cameltoe office wear and indignation on how staff have to stand on line doing the pee pee dance while waiting for the bathroom to be available…YES! BATHROOM

    So, we rant and rant on how we were psychological, emotional and physically assaulted by these ridiculous and clowns of Management. Where does it go from here?

    People have been fired because they were told to do things, that while it was wrong to do, they feared. My only solice is that someone at the Washington level (out of DOC or BOC) picks all this rant up and runs with it.

  12. DontBHatinEnumeratin Says:

    anonymous kid, I haven’t experienced any of this, fortunately. I’m not saying this didn’t exist, but re-read my original post which isn’t Pollyannaish at all … it’s reality-ish. I’m very very fortunate to have dealt with the best in CLs CLAs and FOS in my district. Maybe that’s why we’ve consistently been number 1 in all of LA (currently we’re nearly done with an operation most others have just started). We’re the best at what we’ve been hired to do and our LCO and FOS recognize that. That’s why I’m still employed. Everyone I know of that has been terminated never really had their heart in it to begin with, they turned up for a paycheck … I know, because I re-did many of their EQs and I can see it in their approach. And perhaps there are some in this category who believe they were wrongfully terminated. No one who really did the best job they could was wrongfully terminated in my district. I think you’re putting the cart before the horse, somewhat. Being appreciative and grateful is a good thing, no rose colored glasses needed.

  13. Solong Census Says:

    Anonymous 2010,

    I am aware that complaints have been filed with the Department of Commerce Office of the Inspector General (OIG) the e-mail is: hotline@oig.doc.gov You can also file a complaint on their website. The OIG has given a number of the complaints to the Census Bureau Human Resources Division to investigate. Some have complained to the Commerce Department Office of the Special Counsel. I have not heard of anyone getting a response from this office. As you probably know, numerous complaints were filed with the Decennial Office of Civil Rights although this office does not move on investigations. There is also the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This committee oversees the activities of the Census and Dr. Groves has to respond to this committee. As Dr. Groves and the Census Bureau are saying everthing is OK regarding the Fresno situation, all procedures have been followed and the Census Bureau is responding right away to problems, it might be good for the committee to hear the truth from the field. At a minimum, contacting the Chair of this Committee and your state representative on the committee would be a good place to start. On this blog under the recent CCM article there are documents obtained by SRM under the FOIA that list the members of the committee. I would recommend going to the individual Congressional Representative’s website for updated contact information. Doing this in addition to filing a complaint with your Congressional Representatives, might be helpful.

    As to who will file the complaint, it will be the employees against the Census Bureau, more specifically, the Secretary of Commerce. Although, attorneys may not want to take the case as they may not see the monetary value, there are numerous pro-bono attorneys. Money isn’t always what is sought in lawsuits. Also because, the actions taken by Araceli Barcelo and the managment at the LA RCC and possibly management in other regions negatively affect the Census count or specific communities in the census count, there may be groups such as MALDEF, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, etc., that may be interested in the undercount in the Fresno or Central Coast area. There are women’s, gays, veterans,etc.legal defense groups. It depends on the area and what the issues are. Just because we were all temporary employees, it didn’t give the Regional Census Office management to mistreat us. Also, because the Census Bureau couldn’t figure out what the staffing levels in the field needed to be, they overspent in the first operation. We didn’t need to be relentlessly pushed to finish all the later operations early. But, Dr. Groves gave money back to the Treasury. This severly affected the accuracy and quality of the count. It is all about extremely poor management and poor planning. The 2010 Census count has got to be the most inaccurate in recent history.

    As with the Central Valley group, going to the media is a good move. Try the smaller newspapers and media first, as the Census Bureau Media Machine has a good grip on the larger news media. There is a saying and I don’t remember it exactly but something like “never doubt that a small group of committed people can make change”. Maybe someone out there can quote it better.

  14. Al Forteni Says:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”

    Margaret Mead – Anthropologist

  15. pranita veeria Says:

    @ tellitlikeitis ……cameltoe??? LOL Pricelss. Hey D.L. couldn’t help how she looked…she was spending too much of that 100K salary on legal fees…ooopps..:)

  16. Former 3220 employee Says:

    I worked for the north Fresno office for a few different operations
    I can completely vouche for the things that have been said about Araceli, her need to be first to finish and save as much overhead as possible really made for some of the worst decisions I’ve seen in all my years in the workforce.
    There was never any shortage of “is she fucking serious?” from either office or field staff

  17. re Barcelo Says:

    Thank you, 3220… but I must ask, did her “need” to “save as much overhead as possible” temporarily escape her, when she rehired LeBlanc to go to the Salinas office to spy on their operation? His trip from SoCal, and stay for weeks in Salinas must have cost taxpayers thou$and$ for his hotel and per diem . . .

    . . . oh, and lest we forget, this is the same LeBlanc who had “resigned” from the Santa Maria office 1 year earlier, rather than face multiple complaints of sexual harassment from three of their managers. So did she figure he had “suffered enough” from sitting out the Census for a year? More likely she saw that she needed someone as deceitful and conniving as herself to carry out her important mission !

  18. Carol Bradley Says:

    All of you are posting outstanding material — please keep it coming! I worked for years for foreign governments, as well as ours, and this 2010 Census takes the cake. Nowhere, even in the so-called Third World, did I experience or hear of such a debacle (I did NOT work for the World Bank, however, or there may have been a tie between it and the 2010 Census).

  19. Madness Says:

    I believe every story!

    Just got back from taking completed work to my LCO. Met many of the office clerks face-to-face. There was a small handful of individuals who I had the displeasure of working with in other companies the past few years. These individuals were divisive, racist, and would throw people under the bus! The strange thing about it is this: they are African American and Hispanic.

  20. Gail Says:

    I am now working NRFU-RES. I have heard these horror stories and just listened for some months now. I have taken notes and am ready to speak. In NRFU I felt really patriotic and encouraged to be a part of this historical process call 2010 Census. My attitude was right, I got completed EQ’s and felt good about what I was doing. About midway through the NRFU I started getting the feeling that things were not as warm and fuzzy in our LCO. My CL, who was a older professional white gentleman, was getting more frayed each day that we met. I knew then the honeymoon must be getting over. He never said anything negative but as a retired state government employee in the Behavioral Health field I knew things were crazy. Apparently from comments made by the CLA I knew that unreasonable expectations were being levied upon the CL and our LC group. We got one direction one day, the next day it changed, the next day it was another way. It was crazy. I really felt for the CL since I knew that he was a retired professional and knew that this was a crazy way to run any operation. He stuck it out. In NRFU-VD I was called to work again. This time my CL was a retired school teacher who probably should not have taken this charge since I could tell she was stressed to the nines but at the same time had a tremendous work ethic that was very evident. I knew from comments from the CLA that she took a lot of grief and pressure that she did not send trickling down to my level. She just thought it was all so unprofessional. She was asked to change processes sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. She was directed to drive 45 miles sometimes at midnight to get EQ’s into the LCO so that the LCO could be “ahead of the game”…”number one”. I could not believe this whole process. I just continued to take my mental notes and do my job. Now I am in the final stage of NRFU-RES. This is the most appalling thing I have ever had to do. I would quit now, but I am not a quitter, and I really want to see how this plays out. My CL is about 26 has been to only two of the meeting, constantly sends text messages that make me feel like I am 10 years old. They are all Rah Rah, good job team crap. I do not know what she makes for this crap but I am appalled. Our charge is to go back probably the third or fourth time to some of these folks who have told enumerators before us that they will not give more info. After I realized what was going on and that in one instance my life may have been in danger I refused to go back to one home. I am under the impression that these people are only required (by something) to only be counted so it is hard for me to badger these folks or their neighbors for more info. I have now realized based on one of the text messages that if you finish first you are guaranteed more employment with the census. Our CL who drives a new Mercedes is on her own campaign to make sure she continues to work more by pushing this process through regardless of rather the info is correct or not. Hell, if it is not correct then there will probably be another phase call NRFU-???? to go back to these same beaten down folks to recheck, recount them. I am out of here. I am tired of screwing taxpayers out of more of their money. By the way we get reimbursed 50 cent mile for transportation and just today when a discussion was being held about where to meet and a place was mentioned that was at the end of the county the CLA had the audacity to say..”yes let’s meet there, I get more mileage“.

  21. seki Says:

    As an AM, I was in a partnership/LCO meeting where we were told that major Hispanic media had been told that any negative coverage of the census would result in the loss of advertising dollars. Person making statement was quite proud that the media had been bought off and was now in line.

    About the same time, an RT told me one-on-one that the local partnership manager felt that all partnership positions should be Hispanic only. The RT told me that he had to prevent the local partnership manager from firing the lone Anglo on her staff. Seemed to be pure racism to me. This lone Anglo turned out to be an outstanding worker who stayed on as field staff until the very end.

    I worked with good people who tried hard to produce an accurate census but toward the end accuracy didn’t seem to be priority one. There has to be a better way.

  22. seki Says:

    Clarification: I was an AMX (LCO Assistant Manager of Something) and not AM (Area Manager).

  23. Jack Says:

    anonymous kid…did you really write:
    “ When those Nazi’s knock on your door, you will just go right along with them…”? Your really making a comparison between job of conducting a Census as mandated under the United States Constitution to the Nazis’ systematic murder of millions of people? Really? What happened to you and have you been taking your medication? You’re a “private sector employer”? I can’t even begin to imagine what someone as ignorant as you would be qualified to do. I would stay anonymous…kid.

  24. Sheri Says:

    After training for one week, my first week out in the field, I went over 40 hrs. by 4 hours. I didn’t realize I had gone over when I turned in the last day’s time sheet. My Crew Leader told me I had gone over and she didn’t think we were supposed to. (This had never been gone over in training). I asked my CL to hand me back my time sheet and I would take those 4 hours off and just consider it a donation to the Census. She told me “no, it might be considered manipulating the time sheet”, even though they were my 4 hours!! She told me she thought I “might” get reprimanded for it as one of the Crew Leaders had told her that they had gone over 40 hours a couple of times and had been reprimanded for going over. Several days later, she called to tell me I had been terminated. I was devastated. I did file an EEO but I seriously doubt it will do any good. I sited the following reasons:
    1. We had never gone over this in training. Now you would think, if this was such a punishable offense, they would have gone over this throughly in training. They didn’t go over this at all.
    2. If a CL stated she had gone over 40 hrs. twice and been reprimanded for this, why was I terminated for the same offense. For this reason, I feel I was discriminated against.
    3. I felt a warning should have been given first. What a waste of taxpayers $$. I called it the 3 T’s – Test, Train, and Terminate. So uncalled for.
    The thing is, I would have been a great worker for the Census. I loved the job and I was a perfectionist on the paperwork. What a waste of what would have been a great employee.

  25. Bullwinkle Says:

    I was a FOS since Address/Canvassing and I can attest to the desire by management to be #1 all the time. We ALWAYS had deadlines advanced by the RCC so Good old Stanly could look good for the suits in D.C. Money was wasted,training was a joke (read VERBATIM), and a lot of LCO Management and up were totally incompetent. Leadership was by Intimidation, and some of the Managers were ex-field workers who applied for Office jobs because they couldn’t hack itin the field. The RCC had some of the most incompetent idiots in the world working there. They never had any experience dealing outside of the metro area and it showed (unrealistic goals/not allowing LCO’s to fire people who needed termination/staff on ego trips/etc). This Census IS NOT accurate. Too many holes in the survey, bad decisions by RCC/LCO/D.C./etc, falsification of data (all work done could not have been done accurately in time allowed or under conditions worked), and the list goes on.

  26. Sheri Says:

    Just got my EEO complaint back and it was dismissed, no surprise there, due to the fact that I did not fall into the category of discrimination for age, sex, religion, etc.etc. Now you would think, if a Crew Leader said she had gone over 40 hours twice and been reprimanded for it and that I went over my first week out in the field and was terminated for it, that that would be discrimination of some sort. But because it did not fall into the above mentioned category, I have no recourse. What a bunch of garbage!!