WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Government Employees won a decision affirming union representation for import inspectors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The decision was handed down recently by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the agency responsible for deciding labor-management disputes in the federal government. AFGE, which has represented USDA food and import inspectors since 1968, challenged a USDA declaration that import inspectors are no longer eligible for union representation due to alleged national security needs. AFGE challenged the move to strip the inspectors of eligibility to be represented by a union.
“Union representation provides the public with an insurance policy for accountability in their government,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “An accountable government obeys the law and puts the public interest over self interest, making every American safer.”
AFGE believes the decision is the first instance in which union rights that were stripped from federal workers due to alleged national security needs have been restored. AFGE’s right to represent the USDA inspectors was affirmed by the FLRA Chicago Region in Aug. of last year. USDA appealed that decision, prompting this most recent ruling by the full FLRA in favor of AFGE.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.