(WASHINGTON)American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox issued the following statement in response to the House passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, S. 743.
AFGE was a pioneer in advancing protections for federal employee whistleblowers, and brought the first case under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) in 1979. The work of AFGE and a nationwide coalition of worker advocates, civil rights, taxpayer and good government groups has resulted in the House passage of S. 743, a bill that corrects narrow judicial interpretation and agency rules that made it virtually impossible for federal workers to prevail under the WPA. Passage of this bill was made possible by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Chis Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.), House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
Among the many improvements included in S. 743 are expansions to current laws that protect additional disclosures of wrongdoing, provide statutory whistleblower protections to more than 45,000 Transportation Security Officers, allow more federal courts to hear appeals of whistleblower cases, protect workers against retaliatory investigations when they disclose workplace wrongdoing, and creates the position of whistleblower ombudsman in agency Offices of Inspector General to educate federal workers and managers about whistleblower protections.
Federal workers should be encouraged and protected when they come forward to expose waste, fraud, abuse and wrongdoing in the federal workplace. Currently federal workers risk their careers when they blow the whistle to protect the health, safety or funding of the public because they have inadequate whistleblower protections and there is little accountability for those who retaliate against them. S. 743 adds protection against the chilling effect of retaliation.
The Senate must pass the bill, which has garnered bipartisan support, once it reconvenes after the November elections. AFGE will continue its work with federal worker whistleblower advocates and a bipartisan group of supporters in the Senate including, Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to ensure S. 743 becomes law before the end of the year.