National Union Leader to have intervention with Memphis VA Medical Center

by: Marius Payton Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A National Union Leader is in Memphis Monday night preparing for an intervention with the Memphis VA Medical Center.

David Holway, President of the National Association of Government Employees, called the Memphis VA a 'cesspool.'

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FOX13 spoke with the president Monday afternoon. The president did not mince words about how the Memphis VA employees are treated. 

Holway described the Memphis VA Medical Center as a "cesspool" with a "plantation mentality." Strong words from a National Union President who's fighting for change at this facility.

"What we call it is an intervention. Trying to straighten out what we think is a cesspool in Human Resources at this facility," said Holway.

After years of trying to get their voices heard, the union workers of the Memphis VA have their National Union President fighting against what they believe is unfair treatment by management.

"If they misstep, they are sent home for a couple of weeks, or 30 days or 60 days or fired. And yet these folks are getting paid high salaries for doing little, if no work at all," Holway told FOX13.

Marshall Harris, the president of the Memphis VA union added, "These people aren't even doing their key elements and making 100 plus thousand dollars and the employees see them and wonder 'ain't that the guy who did this?' 'Or ain't that the lady who did this?' Yeah but why are they still in the building?"

It was a topic made clear by the Secretary of the VA, David Shulkin. In a letter to the House Veteran's Affairs Committee, he mentioned a Memphis VA employee who went to jail for 60 days after being arrested on a 3rd DUI and still kept her job.

"The veterans themselves see the issue. I'm here trying to help the veterans get well, and they're trying to help me, help the employees. That's kind of sad," said Harris.

Harris and Holway will meet on Tuesday with an Intervention team out of DC. These interventions are rare.

Also at the table, the director of the Memphis VA, David Dunning. There is hope for a solution, but the problems at this facility run deep.

Holway has referred to other VA’s around the country as having a “plantation mentality” when dealing with employees.

When asked if the Memphis VA fits into that mold, Holway once again spoke his mind. "My understanding is that it is exactly the same," he said.

The Memphis VA responded to these accusations via email saying, "Director Dunning will be conducting a complete evaluation of the facility by gathering input from all stakeholders, elected officials and labor partners."

FOX13 will continue to follow this story as it develops.