WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 300,000 civilian workers in the Department of Defense, is echoing calls from 47 U.S. Senators for Defense Secretary Mark Esper to maintain workers’ collective bargaining rights.
In a March 4 letter, the entire Senate Democratic Caucus cautioned Esper that stripping union rights from DoD workers would set a “dangerous precedent” that could jeopardize our national security. On Jan. 29, President Trump issued a memo designating to the Defense Secretary the power to exempt some or all DoD workers from collective bargaining on the basis of national security.
“In short, we believe that the Department’s unionized workforce has enhanced our security, not detracted from it,” the senators wrote. “President Trump’s Memorandum arbitrarily and needlessly threatens this positive relationship.”
DoD workers have had the right to join a union and bargain collectively since 1962. Nearly half a million employees are currently covered by union contracts in DoD, including 300,000 represented by AFGE.
“DoD’s civilian workers have helped keep our country and our warfighters safe throughout all the wars and military conflicts the U.S. has undertaken, and their right to form and join a union has never been called into question until now,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “More than a third of these workers are veterans, and it’s an insult to these employees’ military service and their continued service to their country for the administration to claim that their union affiliation somehow threatens our national security.
“We thank all of the lawmakers who have spoken out against this appalling action, especially Senators Jack Reed and Gary Peters for leading the letter, and we look forward to working with Congress to preserve the collective bargaining rights of workers at DoD and all federal agencies,” Kelley said.
For more information, visit www.afge.org/DefendOurJobs.