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U.S. Representatives urge leaders: Stand up for federal employees

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 9, 2019) — The Trump administration has launched a coordinated effort to dismantle federal unions and undermine collective bargaining rights, proposing extreme changes to labor contracts under negotiation with each of the unions representing federal employees. The administration has sought to effectuate these extreme terms by bargaining in bad faith and then having the resulting disputes resolved by the Federal Services Impasse Panel, which is now entirely stacked with Trump-appointed members who are actively hostile to labor unions and workers’ rights.

Unions representing federal workers have been fighting back in court, but now they are getting a little help from their friends in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is leading 217 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in urging their leaders to protect federal workers’ collective bargaining rights as they finalize appropriations legislation for Fiscal Year 2020. The members want to retain Section 749 of the House-passed Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act (H.R. 3351), which would ensure that agencies engage in good faith negotiations with employee unions and prevent agencies from unilaterally imposing contracts that undermine workers’ rights.

“This is the first time in four decades that federal unions have had to come to Congress to ask for protection of the institution of fair collective bargaining, including their ability to collect union dues and obtain adequate amounts of official time to carry out legally-required representational duties,” reads a letter signed by the 217 members to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic budget leaders. “Without this provision, the Trump administration will likely succeed in crushing the federal employee unions, making a mockery of the collective bargaining guarantee and rendering the task of effectively representing union members all but impossible.”

Members from Washington state who signed the letter are U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Pramila Jayapal, Rick Larsen, Kim Schrier, and Adam Smith.

“As the nation’s largest unionized employer, the federal government sets many key standards for labor-management relations,” the letter reads. “We who affirm the right of American workers to form, join, and operate independent labor unions must stand up for our federal employee unions in this precarious moment. They have sought our assistance as a last resort, but they need our help and they are unlikely to survive the Trump administration’s assault on their rights without our action.”

The letter is supported by the AFL-CIO, AFGE, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), AFSCME, National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE), International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and Federal Education Association (FEA).

A signed copy of the letter is available here.

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