AFGE Meets With New DHS, USDA Chiefs

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said the union’s national president, John Gage, has met with Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to discuss workforce issues that are key to the union’s employees at those agencies. Gage on Feb. 20 sat down with Napolitano to discuss employee concerns at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Border Patrol, among other topics. The union said Gage shared with Napolitano the union’s support for comprehensive immigration reform and discussed funding anomalies at Citizenship and Immigration Services. Gage also stressed the need to provide Transportation Security Officers with collective bargaining rights—as pledged by President Obama in an October letter to AFGE. “We don’t believe the Secretary needs to wait for a new administrator to be named to make good on President Obama’s promise to these dedicated employees,” Gage said. “This can be done immediately by directing the acting [TSA] administrator to rescind a 2003 directive prohibiting collective bargaining.” In the meeting with Vilsack, Gage noted that over the past eight years, the union has fought against funding cuts and staffing shortfalls that have plagued the department. AFGE represents many USDA employees, including thousands of food inspectors in AFGE Council 45, Gage said. “After meeting with Secretary Vilsack, it is clear that this administration is serious about the need to refocus the department,” Gage said. To see more, go to: www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=PressReleases&PressReleaseID=948 or www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=PressReleases&PressReleaseID=949.

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