Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrapping up a worldwide trademark listening tour, has apparently been lending an ear to Foreign Service officers, too. The American Foreign Service Association, which represents the officers and USAID workers, reveals in a newsletter that Clinton is open to many of their workplace complaints, including a demand to expand benefits to same-sex couples. "This issue has been presented to the new secretary of state, and she seems understanding and supportive towards increasing these benefits," says the influential group. The assessment was included in the group's latest member survey. In that poll, members were asked: "Should AFSA advocate for official recognition and benefits for same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service members?" About 71 percent said yes, with only 17 percent opposed. The group also said that Clinton is keen on addressing another of its issues: the overseas pay gap, the nearly 20 percent drop in pay department employees incur when leaving high-priced U.S. cities like Washington to move overseas.
The survey also includes many comments and complaints from Foreign Service officers, including this tart note: "We had a feeling of caring under Colin Powell in regards to training priorities, family support, and quality of life. We no longer feel that under the current [Bush] administration, and I am not optimistic we'll get that with the new. The current atmosphere in the Foreign Service seems to me to be like DoD—where you're used, abused, then thrown out the door when they're done with you."
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