Doctors, nurses, claims representatives, and other employees working at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide are uniting against the Trump administration’s effort to undermine its own workforce and, ultimately, privatize the VA.
VA employees across the country are holding more than 58 rallies, town halls, meetings with members of Congress, and union fairs on June 5 – the VA Day of Action – to fight the administration's contract proposal that would turn the VA into a tyranny in which they have no say in their own working conditions and no right to hold rogue managers accountable.
AFGE VA Locals are mobilizing and engaging their local communities, including State Federations and Central Labor Councils. They are also taking their fight to social media with the hashtags #SaveOurVA and #IServeVeterans.
“Make no mistake. This contract is a part of this administration’s open war against working people and our democratic system,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “We will not allow it.”
The VA Day of Action is part of our union’s campaign against the VA’s contract proposal. Contract negotiations between AFGE and the VA began May 27, and locals are engaged in various actions including taking photos for social media with signs that read “Dignity,” “Fairness,” “Respect” – the theme of the contract campaign. They will also wear red on Wednesdays to show support for our negotiating team. Employees are encouraged to put up signs on their bulletin boards and bring signs to rallies or any actions. You can download “Dignity. Fairness. Respect.” signs here.
Why we fight
The contract proposal from President Trump’s Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie would strip 260,000 VA employees of many of the rights and protections they’ve won through collective bargaining. The proposal is clearly an attempt to set VA employees up to fail and pave the way for VA privatization.
Here are a few examples of what management wants to do:
- Eliminate the process that prevents retaliation and harassment, thereby discouraging employees from bringing to light issues that hurt their ability to take care of veterans;
- Reduce management accountability by limiting employees’ ability to file grievances. Employees won’t, for example, be able to file a grievance against an unjust disciplinary action;
- Allow managers to play favorites by banning collective bargaining over a range of currently permitted issues, including employee reassignments and shift changes, disciplinary actions, performance appraisals, reductions in force, physician and dentist pay, and special accommodations for employees with disabilities;
- Restrict all communications between the union and the agency to the national level, including all grievances and unfair labor practice charges. That means individual grievances employees file might not be addressed in a timely manner, as they will now join thousands of others at the national level;
- Limit employees’ access to their union reps by evicting union reps from their offices inside VA facilities and denying them access to computers, laptops, and other equipment used in their representational duties;
- Require employees to complete a lengthy and intimidating form every year in order to maintain their union membership;
- Severely restrict the use of telework and authorize managers to cancel or change telework agreements for any reason with just 12 hours advance notice.
Join in the fight
Click here to take part in the VA Day of Action on June 5.
Click here for more information on how we can fight for dignity, fairness, and respect for all.