(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), today issued the following statement in response to House Committee on Government Reform approval of an amendment which protects the collective bargaining and civil service rights of those unionized federal employees who would work for the new Homeland Security Department:
"It is extremely dangerous to conclude that the war on terrorism must be fought by federal employees denied their basic labor and civil service rights and protections.
"When public employees’ rights and protections are compromised, so too is the safety and security of the public they serve.
"Homeland security requires a secure work force with employees who can be certain that they, too, will be protected from politics and favoritism and from punishment for speaking out against any mismanagement they witness.
"Destroying the rights of federal employees will, in turn, destroy any attempt to provide skilled, well-trained, professional employees to guard our nation and its citizens.
"AFGE and its members thank Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) for her efforts to include an amendment in Homeland Security bill which protects the civil service and labor rights of federal homeland security employees. In fact, the country owes her a debt of gratitude for her efforts to ensure the safety of the American people."
AFGE represents over 32,500 employees who would be transferred to the proposed Homeland Security Department from such agencies as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (including the Border Patrol), the Federal Protective Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments.