AFGE urges Congress to address gaps in federal whistleblower laws that have failed to protect some VA whistleblowers, including those who were new hires or working under a different set of personnel rules for health care employees.
At a recent hearing, Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota urged fellow lawmakers to ensure that every employee is covered equally so that the Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board have the resources to do all the cases for these brave individuals.
AFGE applauds Congressman Walz for encouraging lawmakers to protect vulnerable workers and "keep in mind if we do things that undermine their ability to be represented in the workplace there’s nowhere else for them to turn and we turn the leverage back to that poor management."
"As VA whistleblower legislative proposals are considered in the House and Senate, it is important to remember that President Obama already signed into law a powerful set of protections for federal employee whistleblowers; the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act," said AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council President Alma Lee. "Instead of taking away the appeal rights of front-line employees, Congress should close the remaining gaps in current whistleblower law to make sure every VA employee receives equal protection against retaliation by management."
AFGE has called on lawmakers to reject H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act of 2015 and other proposals to strip every VA employee of basic workplace protections, and instead, enact alternative reforms that hold managers accountable for retaliation and provide whistleblowers with adequate representation.
President Lee also praised Congressman Walz for his May 4th letter to the union stating that while "we must work to improve accountability systems and encourage transparency at the VA...this should not come at the cost of VA employees' rights and protections."
AFGE looks forward to working closely with Congressman Walz and other lawmakers on strengthening whistleblower protections and enacting other meaningful accountability reforms in the coming months.