This year federal working people have come under constant attack from Congress and the administration. These civil servants have dedicated their careers to caring for our nation’s veterans, safeguarding our airports, processing Social Security benefits, inspecting our food, and so much more.
Fortunately for the American taxpayer who relies on the work done by the more than 2 million public servants in the country, AFGE and their members are not taking this lying down.
Since January, AFGE members have made hundreds of thousands of calls, hundreds of Congressional office visits, and numerous rallies all across the country – and people are starting to take notice.
After President Trump nominated Scott Pruitt to Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency – an agency he has sued numerous times and wants to dismantle– AFGE Council 238 and its members took action.
They began holding rallies at regional offices and facilities, often with members of Congress who wanted to stand with the hard-working men and women who keep our air clean and our water safe. Rallies were held in Washington, D.C., Ann Arbor, MI, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, and Atlanta, GA – among many other locations.
After holding those rallies, making phone calls to Congressional leaders, visiting Congressional offices, and telling their stories to the media, Congress rejected the heinous budget proposed by the Administration. Not content to stop there, Council 238 continued to press, and recently held a rally in Philadelphia, PA, with college students from Temple and Drexel standing in solidarity with workers from EPA Region 3.
Gary Morton, President of Local 3631 which represents working people at the Region 3 office in Philadelphia, helped lead the rally and said, “The engagement we’re seeing from members of the community – young and old – is truly inspiring. The public servants at the EPA are the ones who protect community health in this country, and their entire livelihoods are at stake. It’s wonderful to see the public come together to stand up to the Administration and tell them ‘We want the EPA, and we need the EPA.’”
While the EPA is fighting an Administrator who wants to dismantle the agency, and an Administration that wants to severely cut its budget, public servants at the VA are facing a battle of their own.
Since the 2014 waitlist crisis first entered the public consciousness, working people at the VA have been under intense scrutiny, and have been the scapegoats for bad management, understaffing, and underfunding at the country’s best health care system.
This year, shortly before becoming VA Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin spoke out about the 45,000 vacancies at the VA, saying, "I need to fill every one of those openings in order to make sure that we're doing the very best for our veterans." But instead of filling those vacancies, the Administration and Congress turned its focus on new ways to fire workers at the VA – one-third of whom are veterans themselves. And by May, there were more than 49,000 vacancies nationwide.
In response to the growing staffing shortage plaguing VA medical centers, hospitals, and clinics across the country, AFGE and the AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council decided to hold rallies to raise awareness and fight the false narrative that the VA was failing and should be privatized.
Since June, AFGE has held 33 rallies in 21 states, with more than 14 rallies upcoming. VA employees, veterans, concerned members of the community, veterans’ service organizations, and Members of Congress have come together at these rallies to tell Congress that the VA is the only health care system in the country prepared to care for those who have served.
Be sure to check www.afge.org to see if there are any opportunities to join a rally near you!