Senate proposal would give feds stronger union protections

With a White House effectively pushing to reduce federal employees’ right to proper contracts and union protections, many in Congress are pushing in the opposite direction.

In fact, nearly half of the U.S. Senate recently signed a letter endorsing a move to pass legislation to provide federal employees with far sturdier collective bargaining rights.

“Robust labor unions are a hallmark of competitive workplaces – they lead the fight for better benefits, protections, and working conditions,” the letter, sent to top Senate leaders, stated. “The Trump Administration’s anti-union agenda undermines the government’s ability to attract talented workers and demoralizes workers currently in public service.”

The proposal would make it illegal for agencies and departments to implement contracts unilaterally—contracts that have not been either agreed upon by all parties concerned or ordered to be implemented by a mediator.

“Without this provision, unions will be locked into unreasonable and unfair contracts for the foreseeable future,” the senators’ letter says.

Major federal employee unions are behind the push, and are coming out strongly in favor of passage.

“It’s unfortunate this is even necessary, but as we’ve seen these last two years, some agency leaders are determined to circumvent the law and undercut legitimate, good-faith collective bargaining with their own employees,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a press release. “NTEU applauds Sen. Peters and other co-signers of today’s letter for strongly reinforcing the Civil Service Reform Act, which says collective bargaining in the federal sector is in the public interest.”

“At a time when the right to unionize in both the public and private sectors is increasingly under attack, we must affirm our support for workers and labor rights,” the NTEU release stated.

The American Federation of Government Employees also has embraced the proposal.

“If Congress fails to act, there could be nothing preventing the administration from decimating our contracts and stripping all federal employees of basic rights and protections at the worksite,” American Federation of Government Employees National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley said, in a press release.

“On behalf of the 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers AFGE proudly represents, I urge Senate and House leaders to protect our democracy by including this language in any appropriations bill that becomes law,” he added.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) took the lead on the senators’ letter—and had 43 of his fellows in the upper chamber sign. The House has already approved legislation that would provide such protection.

Reader comments

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

If you were a fed, and someone who reads some real news and real history, you wuold know that no president can legally do whatever they want. No president can legally use the state department or other department to bully foreign leaders until they are willing to announce fake investigations and create negative headlines about political opponents, rivals in rival parties. That's always been strictly illegal. It's spelled out in the constitution. Try reading it sometime. And don't say the president was only fighting corruption or nonsense like that. Every single official who was involved who testified has said the white house and the guy at the top himself was looking to squeeze the foreign leader to make this announcement, or no dough or arms from us for his totally threatened country. Straight up illegal and unconstitutional squeezing foreign leaders for specific politically useful fake news acts, and then using that news as headlines in re-election campaign. Worse than 1972. Just trying to be polite here but there is no evidence but from creepy hacks (not real diplomats and real experts and real witneses) for your soft coup theory. Sorry you drank the koolaid. You are currently believing and raving about a totally made up lie. Sorry. Go read the constitution. And then read the real evidence.

Tue, Dec 10, 2019

I am sick and tired of President Trump being villified, lied about and the "soft coup" now being attempted by the left. Federal employees have an extremely strong union, so strong that managers cannot manage. Quit your whining and do what your job description says you should be doing for a change.

Tue, Dec 10, 2019

Unions have no place in VA hospitals. Employees use the union to promote poor health care, lower productivity, and excess spending of tax payers dollars.

Tue, Dec 10, 2019

I 100% support the work of the union. The Unions represent a true democracy where citizens, employees, tax payers, are given a voice through their union representatives. This is for the best interest of the public because it allows a few to work on the behalf of many instead of the many navigating thru work force issues & concerns. It allows the workers to remain focus on delivery of services. Federal Unions have significant value in such a large bureaucratic systems to aid in carrying out the mission of the department. It is a good investment of tax payers dollars.

Tue, Dec 10, 2019 L Adams

It is so sad that people that know NOTHING about federal unions criticize those of us that devote our own time and efforts to help others. We do not cater to the whims of managers. We put our own careers in jeopardy defending others without reward. We don't get paid by the Union and we certainly don't get any bonuses. If the Union wasn't fighting for raises there wouldn't be ANY AT ALL. Congress always gives themselves raises and benefits far above ours. Until you have been in the arena and fighting for the protections of employees DON'T JUDGE us.

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