Nearly every week there’s a new press report on how the Trump administration is trying to undermine the public servants who are entrusted to carry out our most critical government programs and policies.
There are far too many examples to list, but here are some of the more egregious examples:
- The White House is seeking to dismantle the federal personnel office and assert direct control over non-political employment issues affecting federal workers, including compensation, health and retirement benefits, and rules that ensure employees are hired and fired based solely on merit.
- The administration is attacking the rights of federal employees to organize and bargain collectively at the worksite by seeking the authority to kick union members out of the union and make it difficult for union members to renew their memberships, while also attempting to financially hinder federal unions by eliminating the option for employees to deduct their union dues from their paychecks along with insurance premiums, charitable contributions and similar recurring payments.
- Political appointees are replacing previously negotiated union contracts with illegal management edicts that prevent a union from carrying out its representational obligations at multiple agencies, including the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Social Security Administration.
- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has proposed stripping language from the union contract that protects medical professionals and other staff who blow the whistle on mismanagement or other violations that could threaten patient safety and prevent veterans from accessing vital services.
- Department heads are relocating two U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies and the Bureau of Land Management headquarters from Washington, D.C., to new locations more than 1,000 miles away, in a transparent attempt to force out career employees and minimize their work.
As these examples make painfully clear, this administration has a simple mission: destroy labor unions and take away workers’ union rights, even if that means weakening vital government programs.
The labor contracts unions negotiate with federal agencies are the only thing preventing this administration from dismantling programs it doesn’t believe in, firing employees for any reason or no reason at all, and selling off chunks of the government to private corporations and special interests.
These attacks reverberate beyond the federal employees and labor unions that are the direct target. They threaten the separation of powers that help ensure our government works for the people in a fair and efficient manner.
There is precious little time left to stop the administration from declaring an all–out war on federal workers. Court challenges filed by our union, the American Federation of Government Employees, and others have so far prevented the White House from legally enforcing three executive orders, issued in May 2018, that are designed to annihilate federal unions. But time is running out, and this administration has demonstrated it has no issue defying court injunctions or violating the law to get its way.
That’s why hundreds of federal employees and allies from across the country are gathering in Washington on September 24 to protest these attacks, stand up for government workers’ voice on the job and in our democracy, and defend the work public servants perform on our nation’s behalf every day. The “Fed Up? Rise Up!” rally is being organized by the four unions that represent the majority of federal workers: the American Federation of Government Employees, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the National Federation of Federal Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union. Our protest will put pressure on the White House to stop the attacks on federal workers, their contracts and their voice at work.
This isn’t just do-or-die time for federal employee unions, for our collective bargaining rights and for the work we do on the public’s behalf every day; nothing less than the future of our democracy is at stake.
Jeffrey David Cox Sr. is national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE which is the largest union representing federal and D.C. government employees.
More than 2,000 federal employees, union members and members of Congress protested on July 25, 2018, in Washington, D.C., as the U.S. District Court heard arguments in legal challenges brought by federal unions against three union-busting executive orders issued by President Trump in May 2018.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES