AFGE Council 220 President and General Committee Spokesperson Ralph de Juliis, representing over 45,000 Social Security Administration (SSA) employees, is calling President Joe Biden to fire SSA Acting Commissioner Andrew Saul in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Biden administration has been reluctant to remove the Trump appointee at SSA partly because according to federal law, he could only be fired for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.” Saul’s term expires in 2025.
But a recent Supreme Court ruling on a similar case could change that.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that a restriction that the Federal Housing Finance Agency director could only be removed “for cause” before his term ends was unconstitutional.
Justice Samuel Alito said the “removal power helps the President maintain a degree of control over the subordinates he needs to carry out his duties…that these subordinates serve the people effectively and in accordance with the policies that the people presumably elected the President to promote.”
The Biden administration has announced it would replace the director.
AFGE Council 220, which represents over 26,000 SSA employees in field offices and teleservice centers nationwide, has worked with fellow unions, Social Security advocates, and members of Congress to demand President Biden fire Saul.
Since Trump appointed Saul and Deputy Commissioner David Black in 2019, SSA employees have withstood years of mismanagement, hostile labor relations, a notable decline in employee morale, and a decline in the quality of services SSA provides to its beneficiaries. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Saul has only further driven the agency into the ground.
Under his watch, SSA revoked and later delayed the implementation of telework amid a global pandemic, delayed stimulus checks to millions of elderly and disabled Americans after the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and has failed to modernize the agency to allow simple ID verification without forcing Americans to forfeit their IDs for weeks on end.
“Council 220 believes that the Supreme Court’s ruling gives President Biden ample discretion to fire Saul for cause and replace him with someone committed to investing in and improving Social Security. We encourage President Biden to fire Saul and build back a better SSA,” saidthe AFGE Council 220 president who represents 26,000 SSA employees in field offices and teleservice centers nationwide.
He also wrote a letter to Rep. John Larson, chairman of the House Social Security Subcommittee of Ways and Mean, in response to recent testimony of beneficiaries to provide insight on Saul’s mismanagement and why he needs to be replaced.
“Saul continues to excessively waste funds on extraneous projects like rebranding, rather than prioritize necessary training, retention of employees, and system updates that would modernize and ease processes,” de Juliis said. “His mismanagement of SSA’s budget has led to a lack of funds reserved for overtime pay, which prevents employees from rising to meet the heavy workloads that have arisen from the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are unable to keep up with the overwhelming workloads with the consistently decreasing employee numbers. Though there are not enough staff for field offices to operate effectively, headquarters are needlessly being renovated. The challenges Saul has created have been caused by his unwillingness to modernize the SSA.”
Read the entire letter here.