(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), issued the following statement today regarding President Bush’s dismissal of all seven members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP):
“President Bush’s unprecedented and irresponsible action in dismissing all seven members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel at once without naming a single replacement member, effectively shuts down the federal collective bargaining process, and allows current labor-management disputes to gather dust on the desks of former Panel members.
“Though Bush may have the lawful right to dump all seven members of the Panel with less than a day’s notice, his refusal to announce replacement members is an abuse of authority and renders the labor laws passed by Congress moot.
“There’s no telling when Bush will get around to replacing these vacant Panel positions. If the vacant position of general counsel for the Federal Labor Relations Authority is any example, we could be waiting for some time.
“Bush’s actions are a disservice to management officials, trying to reach agreement on effective work place changes, and a disincentive to both labor and management when attempting to reach agreement on important collective bargaining issues.
“The Impasses Panel’s sole purpose is to settle labor-management disputes. For some 25 years the Panel has served as a quid-pro-quo for federal workers who are not allowed to strike.
“Imagine if disaster struck at the Supreme Court and the President simply refused to appoint new justices. In many regards, this is our Supreme Court. Bush has a responsibility to keep the Impasses Panel operating.
“AFGE is currently reviewing the possibility of court action over the de facto dismantling of this government agency.”