FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2004
Kurt Gallagher
(202) 639-6419
Adele Stan
(202) 639-6448

AFGE Decries Attempt To Write Discrimination Into Contract

(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) revealed today in a news briefing that the Social Security Administration has taken a pro-discriminatory stance in contract negotiations with employees. The Social Security Administration has proposed removing anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees from its labor contract.

"This Administration has a disgraceful record on civil rights," said Andrea E. Brooks, AFGE national vice president for women's and fair practices. "Earlier this year the Office of Special Counsel, which informs federal employees of their workplace protections and rights, removed all references to prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation from the agency web site. After widespread public rebuke and a reversal of the action, this Administration is now attempting to permit discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals by removing protections from union contracts."

The Social Security Administration labor contract has contained a prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation for many years without compromising the mission or its managerial goals. The contract expired in April, but will remain in effect until negotiations have concluded and the new contract is ratified.

In February, the newly appointed head of the Office of Special Counsel ordered all references to prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation be removed from the agency web site. The move prompted an outcry from members of Congress, labor unions, and civil rights organizations. In April, the Office of Special Counsel backed off its position and reinstated the anti-discrimination policy. Policy prohibiting discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals in the federal workplace has its beginning in a 1973 position articulated by the Civil Service Commission.

The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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