(WASHINGTON)—As the labor union representing more than 80 percent of the Federal Protective Service workforce, the American Federation of Government Employees today applauded the Senate for passing its FY08 DHS Appropriations Bill and including in it language that would essentially stop downsizing at one of the nation’s most essential federal agencies.
The language was offered as an amendment by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). AFGE worked closely with Sen. Clinton to prevent the elimination of key homeland security personnel at the agency. The Clinton Amendment specifically states that the FPS workforce must include “not fewer than 1,200 Commanders, Police Officers, Inspectors, and Special Agents …” and that the “Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall adjust fees as necessary to ensure full funding …”
“AFGE is grateful to Sen. Clinton for her dedication to the safety of this nation, and to the men and women who protect it,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “The Bush administration is attempting to unilaterally alter the mission of this critical homeland security agency despite the demonstrated need for high security at federal buildings and complexes. Passage of this amendment will ensure that attempt doesn’t happen.”
The administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which oversees FPS) had called for cutting hundreds of already scarce FPS jobs. Despite congressional opposition, ICE already has begun implementing this potentially disastrous proposal.
“Having this language in the bill was essential to the future of FPS,” said David Wright, president of AFGE’s Local 918, a national local that represents FPS employees. “ICE has been taking every step to reduce the FPS workforce and FPS is losing experienced law enforcement officers on an almost daily basis.
“Countless highly vulnerable Federal buildings that once received around the clock FPS protection no longer receive it,” Wright added. “Continuing to cut jobs would put us at a lower level than the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. In the post-9/11 world in which we live, it is unimaginable to even think about eliminating the law enforcement and anti-terrorism activities of the FPS.
“A fully-staffed FPS workforce is critical to the safety of this nation,” Wright said. “This bill is not about keeping jobs, it’s about keeping Americans protected. This is one small step for the much maligned FPS and one giant step for a safer America.”