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Workers Protest Assault on Federal Employees’ Rights

Source: AFL-CIO

More than 1,000 federal workers and members from a wide range of unions and allied groups rallied on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 12 to protest the Bush administration’s assault on federal workers’ rights. Workers from the metropolitan D.C., area were joined by federal workers who traveled from Alabama, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania to take part in the protest.

The rally focused on the Defense Department’s new National Security Personnel System (NSPS), which will deny collective bargaining and civil service rights to some 750,000 Defense Department workers. The Bush administration unveiled the new workforce rules in February. Workers also spotlighted the Bush administration’s denial of collective bargaining rights to the workers in Homeland Security and its ban on organizing and collective bargaining for tens of thousands of Transportation Security Agency workers.

The NSPS system, which is expected to be put into place soon, is patterned closely after the personnel system the Bush administration
imposed on 160,000 Department of Homeland Security workers Jan. 26, which slashed employees’ bargaining and workplace rights and civil service pay scales.

‘An Assault on Every Worker in America’

“Federal workers protect our homeland and food supply and provide necessary services in every area from education to law enforcement,”
AFGE President John Gage told rally participants. “The services that the American people depend upon will be severely disrupted or come to a screeching halt if these changes are put into place.”

Seeking to restore workers’ rights and reach a compromise on the new rules, representatives from the three dozen unions and other labor organizations that make up the
United DoD Workers Coalition were recently in negotiations with the Defense Department. But union leaders say the department refused to budge. The United DoD Workers Coalition was formed in 2004 to fight the Bush administration’s attack on defense employees’ rights.

“This administration does not believe in sharing power with anyone—certainly not its workers,”
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers President Gregory Junemann said at the rally. “These people have no taste for negotiations, no stomach for compromise. They sneer at the success our defense workers have created. And they turn their backs on workers’ rights to belong to labor unions.”

Bush Seeks to Eliminate Federal Employees’ Rights in all Agencies

The Bush administration has said it wants to impose rules similar to the NSPS on the entire federal workforce.

“What’s happening to our federal workers…is more than just the biggest attack ever on unions and our members, it’s an assault on every worker and every union member in America…part of an all-out, ongoing war on working families,”
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka told the crowd.

Along with eliminating collective bargaining rights, whistleblower protections and other worker and civil service rights, the new rules replace the current civil service pay scales, which will result in lower wages and poor worker morale and likely will compromise national security, according to AFGE.

Unions have filed lawsuits to in federal court to block implementation of the NSPS and Department of Homeland Security rules.


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