National President Dougan Heads West to Visit Indian Health Service, Forest Service Locals


National President Dougan and National Business Representative Steve Flory hit the road last week, visiting seven Locals in five days in the Northwest, Rocky Mountains and Northern Great Plains. Meeting with both Forest Service and Indian Health Service (IHS) Locals, their mission to was to engage employees on the ground and discover what the union could do to make a better workplace.

Their first stop was the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, where they met with members of NFFE Local 1295. Dropping in on the Sand Point and Bonner’s Ferry ranger stations, Dougan and Flory discussed the recently announced Forest Service hiring freeze and how it will impact the Forest’s mission and that of the agency as a whole. This same issue was brought up the following day, when the pair travelled to nearby Kootenai National Forest in Northwestern Montana. There, Dougan assured members that the union has been working with Congress, the Administration, and agency leadership to protect jobs and preserve agency funding.

On the second leg of the trip, Dougan and Flory visited several IHS Locals throughout the state of Montana. Meeting with NFFE IHS Council President Dan Wippert that Tuesday, they put together a plan to address the critical agency-wide issues of staffing shortages, changes in work schedules, and issues with unaccountable supervisors. Over the following three days they met with employees of NFFE Local 2107 at the Blackfeet Agency IHS facility; Local 58 at Fort Belknap; Local 1801 at the Northern Cheyenne Agency; Local 224 at the Crow Agency; and Local 478 at the IHS area office in Billings.

Throughout the trip, the duo attended lunch meetings with members, sat in on a monthly membership meeting, and discussed workplace issues with agency leadership. They even found the time to recruit over a dozen new members to the Union. Overall, the trip was a clear success.

“This was the first time in many years that a NFFE President has had the privilege to visit our IHS Locals, and I am honored to be the one to go,” said Dougan. “Our members, stewards and officers were incredibly welcoming. Their passion for helping their fellow employees, and caring for our nation’s Native population, made the long trip across the country well worth our while.”