(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) announced this week that the Department of Labor (DoL) canceled its previous plans to outsource 258 administrative support jobs to private contractor GAP Solutions, Inc. AFGE executed a strong lobbying effort to block the Department’s efforts to privatize federal jobs. AFGE Local 12, which represents employees in the DoL, organized a rally of hundreds on Capitol Hill to protest the Department’s decision to contract out the administrative jobs.
“We always knew that these privatization schemes were unfair, discriminatory, and jeopardized the Department of Labor’s mission to protect the American worker. Now, we can continue to fulfill our mission without having to constantly look over our shoulder for the next contracting out effort,” said Alex Bastani president of AFGE’s Local 12.
The DoL privatization efforts were finally derailed by Congressional legislation developed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Sen. Mikulski (D-Md.) included language in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill prohibiting DoL from conducting any A-76 competitions until the Government Accountability Office investigated failures in the privatization process. In a letter to AFGE, Sen. Mikulski noted, “I am proud to of the work being done by our federal employees and of the efforts of the American Federation of Government Employees to represent them.”
Prior to canceling the privatization process, known as A-76, DoL administered the process in a way which disproportionately affected minority employees. Of the 250 administrative jobs scheduled to be eliminated, the affected employees were overwhelmingly African-American women, over the age of 40.
The privatization process was touted as a cost saving measure by its proponents, but had yet to prove that privatizing federal jobs actually saved money or increased efficiency. In fact, since 2004 federal employees in the DoL were been challenged 26 times through A-76, winning almost 90 percent of the private-public competitions. While these victories clearly displayed the superior quality of the federal workforce, the department refused to seek alternatives to the A-76 process.
“Privatization at the Department of Labor undermined the morale of the employees and challenged the agency’s mission of protecting American workers and ensuring fairness and safety in the workplace. We applaud Sen. Mikulski for recognizing the essential work of the employees in the Department of Labor,” said John Gage, AFGE national president.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 750,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.