Biden details his position on federal workers’ rights
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jul 09, 2020
As the American Federation of Government Employees considers which presidential candidate to endorse in the November election, it sent a questionnaire to the announced presidential candidates so AFGE members could see where the candidates stood on issues relevant to the federal workforce. The union asked questions on collective bargaining rights, federal employee pay and benefits, job security, employee furloughs and discrimination as well as agency-specific questions, drilling into issues that impact workers at the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense Department and Homeland Security.
“This questionnaire is not only helpful for better understanding the candidates; it’s also a great tool for educating the next leader of the free world about who we are, what we stand for, and what we expect from them, AFGE said on its website.
The union, however, made no effort to disguise its disappointment with the Trump administration's treatment of federal workers:
“Through executive orders, bad-faith bargaining, and regulatory mischief, the current Administration has loosed a direct attack on our members’ union rights and dignity on the job. This includes purging lawful representational activity from government worksites and equipment, weaponizing the bargaining process to propose, and in some cases impose, one-sided contracts, attacking our statutory right to collect voluntary dues, crippling our ability to mediate disputes on duty time, and more,” AFGE said in the introduction to the questionnaire. “Taken together, these attacks constitute more than just a threat to our members’ livelihoods, they threaten the survival of the merit-based civil service system on which our government is built.”
In answering the questionnaire, former Vice President Joe Biden said he would support efforts that would prevent rollbacks of official time use and block efforts to prevent voluntary automatic union dues deductions from federal workers’ paychecks.
“Our federal employees deserve fair compensation and should not be subject to cuts in health insurance premiums or other critical employee benefits,” he wrote. “The federal government should lead by example and provide high quality benefits, instead of pushing anti-worker budget adjustments designed to shift the burden of health care and retirement costs onto employees.”
Biden also pledged to support legislation that would permanently appropriate money to continue funding federal workers’ salaries in the event of any lapses in agency funding due to events such as the 35-day partial government shutdown that began in December 2018.
“The uncertainty of budget showdowns can be a source of great stress for federal employees trying to make ends meet and are harmful to the dedicated public servants who keep our country running,” Biden wrote in his questionnaire answer. “Not only was this hard on working families, it also compromised our safety. In my administration, workers, their safety, and the safety of the public will come first above all else.”
No other presidential candidate responses have yet been posted to the AFGE website. The questionnaire is one of several processes the union is conducting as it considers its presidential endorsement. It also plans to conduct two surveys, interview the candidates and consider membership input.
Read Biden’s full answers here.