Angelo “Troy” Marshall will lose his job with the federal government Friday after 17 years.
Not because of a poor job performance or downsizing, but because he owes nearly $6,000 on credit card and medical bills.
The 48-year-old Cuyahoga Falls man is among 67 workers who he said will be fired at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Cleveland because of security concerns about their personal credit. U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Steve LaTourette are aware of the situation and said the rules need to be changed.
Marshall, president of American Federal Government Employees Local 3283, which represents the DFAS workers, said 20 employees have already been terminated and about 23 more have been suspended with firings pending. The remaining 24 will be fired next month — all for credit reasons, he said.
“It is difficult to understand how we remove employees because of their credit yet the government itself is a trillion dollars in debt,” he said.
Regina Hairston was let go last September after 13 years as a worker who filed Treasury checks. The 57-year-old Cleveland woman had been employed by the federal government for 33 years, previously working at NASA in Cleveland and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver.
“I have an untainted security file at NASA and the EPA but was terminated for financial situations,” Hairston said. “What a slap in the face and punch in the gut! The DFAS has defamed my character.”
Tom LaRock, national spokesman for the DFAS, said it is not the service’s decision to fire employees solely for bad credit. Decisions are made in a Department of Defense office at the Pentagon.
LaRock said all DFAS positions are considered sensitive, including filing clerks like Hairston, who have access to names, Social Security numbers and bank accounts. He said all DFAS employees, including himself, undergo background checks.
“Washington renders the final decisions on our employees,” LaRock said. “We don’t even have an option to go to bat for anybody, even those we know are good workers. We give them their appeal rights, and all that goes to Washington. Once they render a decision, all we can do is enforce it.”
LaRock confirmed that among the paychecks DFAS Cleveland processes is that of President Barack Obama.
The problem started, Marshall said, in 2005, when jobs deemed to be noncritical and nonsensitive were moved by DFAS into the noncritical, sensitive classification. That allowed DFAS to conduct credit checks on employees for security reasons.
“We’ve been trying for the last five years to straighten this problem out,” Marshall said. “We don’t handle classified or sensitive information, but the DFAS won’t tell us why they’ve reclassified us.”
Marshall also said DFAS refused to reveal the standards used to determine who is a credit risk.
Marshall said the union will fight the layoffs. The union also wants DFAS to return the jobs to their original classification, which would force the government to rehire the terminated workers.
“We’ll win this only if we can get the DFAS to admit they made a mistake and they are willing to correct that mistake,” Marshall said.
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Article courtesy cleveland.com