National Weather Service Leadership Clashing with its Employees about Non-Disclosure

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
NWS Director Louis W. Uccellini

The union representing workers at the National Weather Service (NWS) has filed a legal complaint (pdf) against the agency’s recent introduction of employee nondisclosure agreements, claiming managers are trying to “gag” staff from talking about internal issues.


The NWS’ nondisclosure orders forbid disclosing information about activities related to workforce planning, settlement of grievance disputes and the collective bargaining process.


The National Weather Service Employees Organization says the agreements represent illegal gag orders that violate the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (pdf). The nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is supporting the union, having filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, which oversees federal whistleblowers.


The union’s executive vice president, Bill Hopkins, said in a statement: “The National Weather Service knows it’s unethical for union representatives to keep critical information from the employees they represent.”


PEER’s executive director, Jeff Ruch, said the NWS “is about the last place where national security-style secrecy rules need to be enforced.”


“Everyone is free to talk about the weather except for the people working inside the National Weather Service. Go figure,” Ruch said.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Weather Service Staffers Protest ‘Gag Orders’ in Workforce Planning (by Charles S. Clark Octo, Government Executive)

Weather Service Employees Tethered by Illegal Gag Orders (PEER)

Federal Employee Advocates File Complaint with U.S. Special Counsel to Prohibit NWS from Imposing Gag Orders on NWSEO (National Weather Service Employees Organization)


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