(Washington, D.C.)--Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), issued the following statement in response to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's passage of a Homeland Security bill:
"Today the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee took a critical step forward in the effort to protect America's homeland and its citizens.
"Homeland security requires a secure workforce. Federal employees need the protections of a system that allows them to speak out about mismanagement in the new agency, without fear of losing their job. Civil service protections and union representation ensure that speaking out about serious problems is encouraged, rather than punished.
"The new Department of Homeland Security must be able to recruit and retain a highly-skilled, well-trained, professional and capable workforce. Denying basic rights and protections will make recruitment difficult and the retention of skilled and experienced employees even harder.
"The Senate is right not to cave into the White House's philosophy of allowing political managers unregulated freedom to mismanage the new Department of Homeland Security. This same freedom-from-rules approach brought America the unprecedented crash-and-burn corporate scandals of Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Andersen. To do the same with our homeland security could result in disastrous consequences.
"AFGE applauds the efforts of Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) for his successful effort to ensure civil service protections and collective bargaining rights in the Senate's Homeland Security bill. We urge the full Senate to approve these important protections for federal workers to ensure the safety and security of all Americans."