By Lev Koufax
On Feb. 21, the Federal Register published a disgraceful anti-worker memo issued by President Donald Trump attacking union rights for civilian workers in the Department of Defense. The memo effectively gives Secretary of Defense Mark Esper the right to unilaterally strip all 750,000 DOD civilian workers of their collective bargaining rights and union representation.
This memo is the latest step in an escalating war by Trump and his big business allies on federal labor unions.
Since 1962, DOD workers have had the right to form unions and collectively bargain. The importance of union representation to the federal workforce cannot be overstated. For decades, federal unions have fought to strengthen benefits for civilian workers and protect them from unwarranted terminations, suspensions and other disciplinary actions.
The rationale behind Trump’s memo is that unionized DOD workers threaten U.S. “national security.” This is simply an excuse to justify an all-out attack on the rights of one of the more blue collar sectors of the federal workforce.
Many civilian DOD workers, especially those more active in unions, are paid at the “wage grade” scale. Essentially, wage grade jobs are more likely to be paid on an hourly basis and involve physical labor or clerical work.
“The substance of [Trump’s] memorandum is unprecedented and is clearly meant not as an effort to protect national security, but as an instruction to carry out the administration’s ongoing effort to undermine federal sector collective bargaining,” the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said in a letter to members of Congress.
The hypocrisy behind Trump’s memo is appalling. He and other imperialist politicians simultaneously declare themselves to be allies of veterans and then attempt to worsen the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of civilian DOD employees, many of whom are veterans.
The entire working class and progressive movement must fight against Trump’s anti-worker agenda and stand in solidarity with federal workers under attack!