January 06, 2017

Tim Kauffman

[email protected]

AFGE: House Bill Touting Government Accountability, Efficiency Does Neither

Categories: Washington, D.C., Senate, Congress, Workers' Rights, Labor, AFGE National President

PAGE Act would politicize federal workforce, upend pay and pension system, abolish unions

WASHINGTON – Some members of the House of Representatives are continuing their assault on working families with a venomous piece of legislation that would politicize the federal government’s workforce and give political appointees unchecked authority to fire, demote, and discipline employees at will, the American Federation of Government Employees said today.

“Giving political appointees and the managers who serve them free reign to punish workers without cause, while removing the checks and balances that keep everyone honest, is the antithesis of accountability,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

The bill, to be introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana, would make all new federal employees “at will” workers, meaning they could be suspended or fired for any reason or no reason. It also would allow political appointees to immediately suspend current workers, deny them pay, and allow them just 10 days to appeal.

“Instead of encouraging frontline workers to report mismanagement or wasteful spending, this bill would create an environment where employees are fearful of doing or saying anything that could get them fired,” Cox said. “If this bill had been in place two years ago, we never would have heard about the Phoenix VA waitlist manipulations because no one would have dared come forward to blow the whistle on the supervisors who concocted the scheme.”

In addition, the bill would:

  • Deny any pay adjustment whatsoever to workers who fail to receive a performance rating above “fully successful” in a new, management-designed rating system that would inevitably allow subjectivity, favoritism, and politics to influence ratings.
  • Allow the government to deny earned pensions to any current or future employee who is convicted of a felony.
  • Eliminate an employee’s right to representation at the worksite by no longer allowing union representatives to resolve disputes, address issues of discrimination or retaliation, or propose improvements in the workplace during the workday.
  • Allow agencies to continue workplace investigations even after employees have quit or retired.
  • Allow political appointees to demote career executives and reduce their pay without cause.

“This bill is called the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency Act, but it actually would do neither,” Cox said. “In fact, a better title would be the Promote Fear and Political Allegiance Act, since it would give political appointees and their subordinates unchecked authority to target workers and politicize the civil service.”

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