Page 30 - FSJ June 2012

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F
OCUS ON
L
OCALLY
E
MPLOYED
S
TAFF
F
OREIGN
S
ERVICE
N
ATIONALS
S
PEAK
O
UT
30
F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U N E 2 0 1 2
A T
RULY
G
LOBAL
I
NITIATIVE
By Jon Miracle, Brussels
As an American who permanently resides in Belgium
and has worked for the U.S. embassy for 12 years, I have
always striven to become as integrated into the commu-
nity as possible. It helps that I speak Dutch and French
well enough to make me a good contributing partner in
most aspects concerning our local employment contracts,
benefits and work environment.
My U.S. government service actually began when I
served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, the last
three of them as a Marine Security Guard. That is where
I first came into contact with Foreign Service Nationals
and observed the disparity in how they were viewed and
treated, both by post management and their American col-
leagues.
After that, I spent seven years working as a civil servant
at an Army base in Belgium. My daily contact with more
than 500 local staff furthered my appreciation for the im-
portant work they do and how they interact with their
American counterparts.
For six years now I have been involved with the Tri-
Mission National Employee Association, the FSN com-
mittee in Brussels, and became its chairman three years
ago. TRINEA is unique in bringing together local em-
ployees from three distinct posts: the U.S. Mission to the
European Union, the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization, and the bilateral U.S. mission to Bel-
gium.
TRINEA has been blessed with a very active member-
ship and an excellent working relationship with post man-
agement. Every time we have engaged management on
work-related issues, they have listened to our suggestions.
Very often, they agreed with our analysis and supported
our proposals, only to have them go nowhere. It soon be-
came clear that the important decisions were all being
made back in Washington, with little local input, leaving
us more and more frustrated.
Then TRINEA’s founder and former chairman, Eddy
Olislaeger, began reaching out to other FSN associations
throughout Europe to compare notes. He quickly discov-
ered the same pattern in other U.S. embassies: post man-
agement teams listened, and often agreed with local
employees’ concerns, but could not act on them without
Washington’s approval, which often was denied.
Eddy became convinced that the global Locally Em-
ployed Staff community needed an organization that
M
EMBERS OF THE
I
NTERNATIONAL
F
OREIGN
S
ERVICE
A
SSOCIATION REFLECT ON THEIR WORK AT
U.S.
MISSIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE
.
B
Y
S
TEVEN
A
LAN
H
ONLEY
Steven Alan Honley is the editor of the
Journal
.