Senate proposal would give feds stronger union protections
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Dec 06, 2019
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.