AFGE Veterans Affairs Local 2280 President Benjamin Balkum has spoken out against poor practices at the Iron Mountain VA hospital that hurt quality of care for veterans.
In a statement submitted for the record for the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s Health Subcommittee hearing on increasing access to care for rural veterans, Balkum discussed the hostile work environment and the adverse impact of ‘firing bills’ on recruitment, retention, and accountability at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Michigan.
The hostile work environment created by management has had an adverse impact on the veterans’ community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula, and North Eastern Wisconsin.
Balkum reminded lawmakers that the counterproductive and fear-driven work environment at Iron Mountain is deteriorating further in the face of legislative proposals such as H.R.1994 that assault basic workplace rights. This bill would make everything worse, not better.
“We must ask ourselves: How many VA health care professionals will come forward to Congress or will even want to work at the VA if they know they can be fired on the spot or falsely accused of poor patient care without recourse?,” he said.
Balkum has served as Local President of AFGE Local 2280 for nearly 30 years and has worked at the Iron Mountain VA since 1984. He is a Vietnam-era combat veteran and receives his health care services from the VA.