Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.
Powerful special interests and their allies in Congress set their sights on taxpayer dollars and federal jobs, but AFGE activists fought back and won.
Only a few days before Congress went off on August recess, AFGE won several major legislative victories that protect the civil service, jobs, and taxpayer dollars.
Here are our recent legislative victories you need to know about:
- Protection of veterans health care and VA jobs against privatization
We helped defeat on the House floor a very bad pro-privatization VA Choice bill that provided billions of dollars for private-sector facilities and not a cent for the Department of Veterans Administration. This bill would have continued to bleed the VA dry while promoting further privatization and loss of jobs. As a result of our efforts, the Senate and House reached a far superior bipartisan deal the House passed that provides $1.4 billion in funds for the VA and $2.1 billion for the Choice program.
- Protection of voice at work
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had intended to offer at a Senate Homeland Security Committee markup of H.R. 1293 several amendments designed to shut down or vastly restrict so-called official time, a tool federal employees use to work with management to make their workplaces better and safer. AFGE activists reached out to their members of Congress to explain how these amendments would cripple federal agencies and hurt the public they serve. Our efforts paid off when Sen. Paul decided not to offer the amendments after realizing he didn’t have enough support from his colleagues.
The official time bill, which the House had already passed by voice vote, now just requires OPM to provide an annual report on the use and cost of official time.
- Protection of federal jobs and taxpayer dollars
It’s not a secret that federal employees are two to three times cheaper than contractors, yet there is no shortage of attempts to privatize federal jobs just to fatten the pockets of CEOs. Last month, some members of Congress acted on behalf of these corporations and tried to lift a ban on privatization studies at the Department of Defense. AFGE activists sprang into action and won bipartisan support of members of Congress. The House voted by a large bipartisan majority to support an amendment to the 2018 Defense appropriations bill maintaining the ban on A-76 privatization studies. If the amendment had lost, we would likely see a huge loss of jobs as the Pentagon began transferring considerable work to private contractors.
- Protection of our local economies
AFGE members help secure our country’s important military readiness. We also know that for many communities across America, military bases are job creators, the lifeline of the towns. That’s why AFGE opposes a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). We are encouraged that the House passed by voice vote an amendment we strongly supported blocking any funds for a BRAC dedicated to closing military facilities.
- Protection of good jobs at DoD
AFGE opposed two different amendments imposing deep cuts to the Defense appropriations bill. Ultimately, neither amendment was offered. If either had passed, they could have triggered large civilian layoffs at the Pentagon.
- Protection of DoD employees’ voice at work
AFGE strongly opposed several amendments shutting down official time, and thanks to our effort, the House Rules Committee rejected every one of them.
- Protection of little-known but important labs
The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)’s mission is to help reduce pollution, burn less fuel, and create safer methods to extract fossil fuels, which make up more than 80 percent of U.S. energy consumption. But NETL labs in Albany, Oregon; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had been slated for consolidation with deep budget cuts while the Albany lab was slated for closure altogether. The plan shocked many people in these towns, including those in academia who question the rationale behind the cuts to these important programs that also create jobs in local communities. AFGE activists and local allies explained to their members of Congress why these labs are so important to everyone in America. We fought successfully for an amendment adding $33.4 million for the fossil energy and research development for the labs.
But the fight is not over
We still have many legislative battles ahead of us, especially ones that would take away our retirement. We are also likely to see more attacks on official time and our voice at work. That’s why we can’t rest just yet. Now is a good time to schedule a visit with your members of Congress as they go home for August recess. They need to hear from us, not just from the wealthy and CEOs.
Call (844) 669-5146 (D.C. office) or (888) 775-3148 (District office) and tell your member of Congress to protect your retirement and your voice at work.