June 16, 2003
Diane Witiak
John Irvine
(202) 639-6419

AFGE and Lawmakers Fight Bush Administration Efforts to Privatize the Jobs of Seafood Inspectors

Categories: Washington, D.C., Press Release, D.C. Government

Read the full text of the letters from Rep. Frank and Sen. Hollings.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—“The architects of the Bush Administration’s wholesale privatization effort aren’t content being unfair to federal employees, wasting taxpayer dollars, and selling off the government to their contractor cronies,” declared AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage. “Now, they’re actually trying to make the American people sick by privatizing the jobs of Seafood Inspectors from Gloucester, Mass., to Pago Pago, American Samoa.”

The nation’s 180 Seafood Inspectors in the Seafood Inspection Program (SIP) have been determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be candidates for privatization. The determination by NOAA was made despite strong objections raised by AFGE, SIP management, and the seafood industry. AFGE is appealing this manifestly wrong determination to a higher authority in the Department of Commerce.

“Fortunately, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) have launched complementary efforts to ensure that the seafood Americans consume continues to be inspected for safety and quality by an independent third party—the hard-working men and women who staff the SIP and have chosen to be represented by AFGE,” continued Harnage.

“I imagine that the Bush Administration’s privateers will simply say that Americans can always eat other foods if they’re concerned with contractors inspecting their fish,” observed Harnage. “Not for long. If Seafood Inspectors are candidates for privatization, then it’s only a matter of time until Food Inspectors in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will also become targets for privatization. No doubt about it, the Bush Administration’s wholesale privatization policy is completely off the rails.

“AFGE thanks Rep. Frank and Sen. Hollings—the ranking member of the authorizing committee of jurisdiction as well as the relevant appropriations subcommittee—for leading this fight,” added Harnage. “AFGE also thanks the 39 lawmakers who signed on to their letters and we look forward to working with our friends in the Congress to ensure that the Bush Administration understands that seafood inspection is an inherently governmental function.”

AFGE is the largest federal employee union in the United States, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers. Read the full text of the letters from Rep. Frank and Sen. Hollings.

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