Veterans are the group of people that are most harmed by President Trump’s executive order implementing a hiring freeze for much of the government, said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. Jan. 26.
Discussing the hiring freeze on C-SPAN, Cox said 1 in 3 federal employees are veterans, and there are a large number of them who are seeking employment with the government but now can’t.
They “are veterans who’ve honorably served this country. A high number of them are disabled veterans,” Cox said. “They get veterans preference for government hiring. In the VA, the number of employees who are veterans is even higher than the national average because they have a desire to go work for the VA.”
Indeed, a disabled veteran called in and said the hiring freeze hurts his chance to get a job with the VA.
“One of the places that I can get a job is at the VA hospital because of my disability,” said Tony from North Carolina. “This freeze coming on is going to make it to the point where all of us veterans who are from Iraq, from Afghanistan and places like that who are thinking that we’ll come home and be able to get a decent job and not have to be considered as a stigma in the private sector, now we’re going to have to go into the private sector to try to get jobs and we’ll probably be discriminated against because of our disability.”
In response to a White House claim that the federal workforce has exploded in recent years, Cox said the size of the government has actually stayed flat for the past 50 years at two million. What’s increasing instead is the contractor workforce, which is estimated at 5 million. So it doesn’t make any sense to stop government agencies from hiring workers as it will only lead to more hiring of contractors, which are more expensive than federal employees and are not required to hire veterans.
Even though the executive order says agencies cannot contract out work to circumvent the hiring freeze, Cox said agencies already have extensive service contracts in place. Even though they’re not outsourcing new work, they will expand the existing contracts to handle more workload as the population is growing and about 100,000 employees leave the public service a year, mostly through retirement.
In response to a question about more Border Patrol agents who will be hired, Cox said we do need more Border Patrol agents as they are understaffed, but we also need more workers to staff other agencies such as SSA, VA, Defense, and TSA.
Cox said he had written to President Trump seeking a meeting. Trump responded, told him federal employees and AFGE were great but didn’t say they were going to meet, prompting Cox to ask again if they could meet.