The Foreign Service Journal, June 2003
capped in August when it was announced that Henry Kissinger would replace William Rogers as Secretary of State. I requested a meeting with the Secretary-designate in late August and he promptly accept- ed, even before his confirma- tion. On Sept. 6, 1973, Tex Harris, Hank Cohen and I trooped into Kissinger’s White House office. For 45 minutes we outlined our objectives and discussed matters of mutual interest. At one point, after I informed Dr. Kissinger that I would testify against an unqualified political ambassador, he responded (jokingly, I hoped), “I realize that you have the right to testify against the president’s nomination, but you must remember that I have the right to send you to Chad.” I no longer remem- ber the details of our exchanges, but we all came away with the impression that Secretary Kissinger understood we were independent of the State Department hierarchy and, therefore, not subject to his dik- tat. He was prepared to accom- modate many of our goals in return for “peace and quiet.” In short, we sensed he would have State negotiate with us as required by law and regulation. The news of the AFSA leader- ship’s meeting with Dr. Kissinger spread through the department like a prairie fire. Most senior officers had not yet met with him. Within a short time the negotiating logjam began to break up. Progress was substantial over the next several months, and in late 1973 the incumbent Governing Board was overwhelming- ly re-elected as the Achievement Slate. In 1974-75 the number of agreements with the managements of State (most notably), USAID and USIA multiplied dramatically. New initiatives such as the hiring of AFSA’s first staff lawyer, Cathy Waeldon, and representations to Congress were put in place. By the end of 1975 a thriving employ- ee-management system was well and truly launched and AFSA had started up the growth curve which has brought us all to today’s eminence. When AFSA won exclusive representation its annual budget was under $200,000; today the budget is nearly $3 million. Today our legal staff alone is larger than the total staff was then. When we started there was no employee- management system and we represented no one. Today the system is enshrined in the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and we represent the Foreign Service in all the foreign affairs agencies, including Commerce and Agriculture. When I look back, I marvel at the dedication and ener- gy of those who accomplished so much in such a short time. How did it happen? I believe the basic answer is volunteers. That is the one thing we had more of 30 years ago than today. Hundreds of Foreign Service people — a significant part of an entire Foreign Service generation — gave time, genius and inspiration to the reform movement. The testimony to their success is that virtually the same system is in place today — and continues to prosper. ■ F O C U S 34 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 0 3 I marvel at the dedication and energy of those who accomplished so much in such a short time. How did it happen? I believe the basic answer is volunteers. Need to Sound the Alarm About Something? Why not write a “Speaking Out” column for the Foreign Service Journal ? “Speaking Out” is your forum to advocate policy, regulatory or statutory changes to the Foreign Service. These can be based on personal experience with an injustice or convey your hard-won insights into a foreign affairs- related issue. Writers are encouraged to take strong stands, but all factual claims must be supported and documented. Submissions should be approximately 1,500 words in length and should be sent via e-mail to email@example.com . Please note that all submissions to the Journal must be approved by the Editorial Board and are subject to editing for style, length and format.
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