Throughout the history of labor, nothing has been given to us. Working people must fight for justice and fairness, often against impossible odds. But the harder the challenge, the sweeter the victory. That’s why AFGE’s many victories in 2019 were so remarkable.
With renewed strength, determination, and commitment, we intend to win again this year. Here are our top four legislative priorities:
1. Stop every effort to undermine employees’ rights to union membership
There have been attempts by the Trump administration to make it as hard as possible for AFGE members to maintain their union membership. That’s why we strongly oppose any legislation that restricts in any way a federal employee’s decision to join a union or retain membership in the union. Specifically, we oppose any legislation that restricts voluntary dues deduction and/or voluntary retention of union membership unless and until the member decides to revoke their membership.
2. Stop every effort to undermine employees’ rights to union representation
AFGE strongly opposes any attempt to eliminate or restrict the use of negotiated amounts of time for representation during the workday. Current law instructs agencies to bargain for “reasonable” amounts of time for elected union officers to carry out their legal obligations to provide representation to all members of a bargaining unit.
Union membership in the federal government is optional and voluntary, but union representation of all members of a bargaining unit is not optional or voluntary. Thus, the law provides for bargaining over reasonable amounts of paid duty time, or “official time” to carry out representational obligations.
3. Restore federal wages and salaries to pre-recession standards
Federal employees were forced to bear the brunt of the budget austerity that came right after the stimulus spending that brought us out of the Great Recession. Three years of pay freezes followed by extremely small pay adjustments have made life harder for federal employees. For 2021, AFGE is asking for a raise of 3.5%. Federal employees deserve a pay raise that allows them to take care of themselves and their families.
4. Protect the Apolitical, Professional Civil Service from Corruption, Politicization and Cronyism
Under the misleading banner of making it “easier” to fire a federal employee, multiple legislative efforts have been put forward to take away employee appeal rights and place obstacles in the path of employees who try to hold corrupt or incompetent agency managers accountable.
The rhetoric around efforts to politicize the civil service is disguised as a campaign to rid the federal workforce of “poor performers” or bad employees. But efforts to lengthen probationary periods during which employees are “at will,” efforts to curtail and shorten time periods for appealing adverse actions, efforts to reduce evidentiary standards to justify terminations – all create opportunities for corruption and mismanagement and protect those who would use the power to hire and fire federal employees for political or corrupt reasons. That’s why we oppose any effort to undermine the merit-based civil service system and its protections against corruption and politicization.
We have proved that when we stand together, we win. Join or ask your coworkers to join our union today. Only through the union can we effect change and protect our rights. There is strength in numbers!