For 20 minutes, AFGE members stood in silence at the Hart Senate Office Building on Feb. 11 to protest Trump’s executive orders that seek to gut their voice at work.
The 20 minutes reflected the 20 months since the executive orders were issued, which, coupled with the President’s anti-worker attitude and actions, have driven away skilled professionals across our government, putting important projects such as environmental research at risk. But that’s exactly why the administration did it.
“These EO’s are intended to keep us silent,” said AFGE National Secretary Treasurer Everett Kelley. “Ever since President Trump took office, we’ve faced escalating assaults on our workplace rights, because this president wants federal employees to put his personal interests above the Constitution and the American people.”
AFGE members are not having it.
“This administration has been hostile to working families. Setting aside we are union members, our job is to make sure that the rights of employees are protected in the workplace from discrimination to unfair practices,” said Felicia Sharp, chair of the Defense Conference which represents tens of thousands of employees at the Defense Department being targeted by Trump. “Today this silent protest is to show we’re not going away and we’re going to speak up and speak out against these unfair actions. This is going to be the one of many.”
AFGE members from other agencies are equally upset by Trump’s anti-worker, anti-government policies and are fighting back.
Joyce Howell, vice president of AFGE Local 3631 representing Environmental Protection Agency employees in Philadelphia, said her local has been in town to garner support from members of Congress for their “ Bill of Rights” to protect the EPA from Trump’s ongoing attacks on its workers and its mission, which is to protect human health and the environment.
“We’re getting a lot of great feedback and support from Congress people. It’s great to hear. It’s a great morale booster because they’re saying ‘Thank you for all the work you do,’” Howell said. “The thing is, for EPA, it’s not only protecting the workers; it’s protecting the work. We want to be able to do the work we came to EPA to do. With all the environmental rollbacks, it’s just demoralizing.”
Employees from the Department of Veterans Affairs joined the silent gathering for the same reason – their voice at work and their work taking care of veterans are under attack.
“More and more of the services that we provide to our veterans are being contracted out,” said AFGE National VA Council National Representative Dr. James Martin. “Eroding our basic patient care, it’s like spelling the demise of the VA.”
Tara Rosario, president of Local 1786 representing federal employees at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, said she was there to support her union siblings and to voice her opposition to the administration’s anti-worker policies, which include a recent Trump’s memo authorizing DoD to end unionization.
“We’re going to go back home and start working on that, and meeting with our congressman. My representative is Rob Wittman, so I plan to take that memo to his office when I get back home,” she said.
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