November 19, 2002
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Federal Employees Must Have A Say In Creating This New Department of Homeland Security

(Washington, D.C.)—“Undermining the collective bargaining rights and civil service protections of federal employees on the front lines of the war on terrorism does not improve the security of our homeland,” stated Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), following Senate passage of its Homeland Security bill. “It is a sad day in American history when the Congress abolishes its interest in a civil service system and turns its back on hard working, dedicated, patriotic, middle-class people by not protecting their basic freedom of collective bargaining.”

“On the contrary, without a voice on the job and empowerment to speak out when systems and procedures are failing, it will only worsen our nation’s ability to protect our homeland and the American people. It will open the agency to abuse, both of the employees and political abuse.

“Rank-and-file federal employees, on the job every day, know best how to get the job done—they know what works and what doesn’t. Without their input as this critical agency is established, this Administration will be turning a blind eye towards those with valuable insight into winning the war on terrorism.

“Federal employees and their representatives should have a seat at the table as this department is established. Indeed, when the rhetoric dies down, it is the rank-and-file federal employees who have and will continue to risk their lives on the frontlines to win the war on terrorism.”

“AFGE has never been opposed to the creation of a Homeland Security Department and worked closely with Senator Lieberman when his bill was introduced earlier this year. AFGE urges the Administration to work together with federal employees and their representatives to create the very best security for our country.”

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