This is the fifth and last segment of AFGE’s 5-part series: The Secret Memo: Inside Trump’s Plan to Destroy Unions.
Federal employees joined together to form our union in 1932 at one of the most uncertain periods in our nation’s history. Back then, elected officials had crippled the civil service. Wage cuts and furloughs were on the rise. Federal employees lacked many of the basic rights they enjoy today like health insurance, overtime pay, and weekends without work. Employees simply had no rights to come together to negotiate for better working conditions.
Eighty-seven years later, our goal remains the same: build a better workplace for federal employees so they can focus on their job serving the American people. That’s why we stand for safe and healthy workplace, fair treatment of workers, fair compensation, affordable health care, and retirement security. We are proud that what we stand for has helped build the middle class and maintained democracy.
But the Trump administration doesn’t share these values, as seen from a leaked White House memo outlining ways to purge unions and civil servants. The memo confirms what we already know: that the massive changes in personnel policies are not pursued to improve our government as claimed, but to wipe out unions.
In May of last year, the Trump administration issued three executive orders (EOs) to do just that. Several bullet points of the memo made it into the union-busting EOs , including:
- New processes to make it easier to fire federal workers;
- Drastic cuts to hours union reps can use to represent workers fighting unfair treatment;
- Exclusion of important issues unions can bargain over;
- Removal of “comparators” that have helped ensure fairness in disciplinary actions; and
- Removal of employees’ access to union help and guidance in the workplace by removing union offices from government property.
The EOs have created a hostile work environment in federal offices across the country and have distracted employees from doing the work they’ve been hired to do. With the administration’s recent efforts to push federal workers out by relocating them, many employees – including scientists and researchers – have indeed quit. The people who will ultimately pay for the administration’s politicization of the federal workforce? The American taxpayers. The federal government has an obligation to be a model employer, and it has failed so far.
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