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LiUNA! Endorses MG David Baldwin as the new
Adjutant General of the California National Guard

by Ben Banchs
MG David Baldwin and NGDC Business Manager Ben Banchs pose for a picture after their June 2011 Meeting at Gov Brown's office  

Sacramento, CA (February 15, 2012) - The Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) submitted endorsement letters (see left menu column) and testified on behalf of Major General David Baldwin as he was grilled for several hours by the California Senate Rules Committee on his appointment as Adjutant General of the State of California.

During the confirmation hearing MG Baldwin stood his ground, and was unshakable, as he sat through question after question, and as he came face to face with his opponents during a confirmation hearing that harkened back to the days of Robert Kennedy vs. Jimmy Hoffa. Neither the Committee nor the opposition witnesses pulled punches. The General was asked about everything from the conditions at Camp Robert to the "double-dipping" and "dozing for dollars" scandals, and was confronted by very compelling and emotional witnesses, some of which were visibly nervous and anxious.

Aside from our support letters and live testimony in favor of MG Baldwin, the Union was also front and center in connection with another issue. In response to an opposition witness, the General testified to the Committee that he personally requested that the Union look into a certain complaint and provide him an independent opinion on the affected employee. The testimony came towards the end of the hearing. As the General sat and listened, Ms. Kathryn Lindberg testified about her frustration with the lack of resolution of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint which she filed 4 years ago. In response to Ms. Lindberg's testimony, Senator Darrell Steinberg, Senate President pro Tem, questioned whether MG Baldwin knew about her case and about the status of the complaint. The General indicated that he met Lindberg earlier in the week and that he felt her "statement...was so compelling" that he requested his brand new Human Resources Officer (LTC Kim Derouen), to look into the matter. The General also indicated to Senator Steinberg that he personally "asked the Union to look at it from their side" so that we can provide him with "an independent look" and "review all technician as well as command actions" in the Lindberg's case. We're hoping to begin that process soon.

Of all the opposition witnesses who came forth, the last proved to be the most compelling. The witness was a retired enlisted female maintenance technician of the California Air National Guard who told the Committee of certain complaints of sexual harassment and workplace violence which she filed (and according to her were substantiated) against the recently appointed Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 129th Rescue Wing, CMSGT Jason Red. According to the witness, Red shouted profanities at her and threatened to punch her in the throat during an overseas deployment. Not only did she recall the expletives to the Committee, she also called him out by name and pointed to him as she exclaimed, "that's him back there, the one y'all clapped for," a reference to earlier in the hearing when Red testified on behalf of MG Baldwin. When questioned by Senator Steinberg as to whether he was aware of these allegations, the General seemed visibly aggravated, indicated that that was the first he had heard of the incident, and promised that he would be initiating an investigation "tomorrow." It would be safe to say that if the witness was telling the truth, then Red probably won't hold the title for very long. According to his bio, he was appointed to the position in October 2011. 

After the final opposition witness testified, the Senators began expressing their intent to support MG Baldwin's confirmation. Senator Alquist went as far as making a motion (which was adopted) to have MG Baldwin form an Advisory Committee composed of personnel from all ranks and leadership levels in order to allow open and honest discussion of systemic problems, and to allow the formulation of solutions without fear of reprisal. She also motioned to require MG Baldwin to report back to the Senator pro Tem on the progress and status of all the issues brought up during the hearing. It would be safe to say that MG Baldwin will be one busy man. He should know that the Union is here to assist him in any way we can, especially with the Advisory Committee that Senator Alquist asked him to form.

The bottom line is that MG Baldwin was impressive during his testimony. He genuinely seems to want to make things right in the California National Guard. The challenge he faces is that the California National Guard is made up of countless departments and a staff of over 20,000 personnel. It's easy for wrongdoers to hide corruption, and It is impossible for one person to oversee every detail of the operation without having eyes and ears out in the field that are willing and able to provide him the administrative intelligence he needs. As a result, we believe his ultimate success or failure will depend on the people he surrounds himself with at the senior levels of leadership, especially at the Directorate and Key Staff Levels, and how willing he is to do away with leaders who are violating the rules.

In that sense, MG Baldwin should be "slow to hire and quick to fire," and needs to ensure that his Senior Leaders accomplish everything he promised the Senators that grilled him. LIUNA first met with MG Baldwin approximately one year ago, immediately after he was appointed to the post of Adjutant General by Governor Jerry Brown. During that meeting he agreed to work with us on a list of broad issues, and also granted our request to allow one of our members a disciplinary appeal which eventually saved his job. We have confidence in the General, and our promise to him is to work with him and his staff to ensure that Federal Technicians in California are treat fairly and in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern their employment. And, conversely, if he or his staff cannot get the job done, to report immediately to the Senate Committee on his or his staff's inability to implement the much needed change.

To this end, if you're a Federal Dual or Non-Dual Status Technician of the California National Guard, regardless of your actual position, who encounters violations of law or regulations, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Ben Banchs who will attempt to assist you with questions or concerns stemming from your employment, and can help point you in the right direction.   





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