(WASHINGTON) - The nation’s largest union representing federal and DC government employees today criticized a new policy that would restrict vehicle use by DC Health and Human service employees. American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) says the policy essentially puts workers in harms way.
"Case and social workers need to drive their cars or government cars. Metro is simply not an option in getting to certain locations around the city because District employees will not be able to thoroughly perform their services under time constraints. District employees are heavily affected by the new policy due to the high crime neighborhoods where they must perform their responsibilities” said, AFGE National Vice President, Dwight Bowman. “It’s ridiculous that employees can’t even use their own cars or trucks to get to and from the worksites. Safety is an issue and time is a factor. District employees are not able to reach their clients without risking their lives by walking through dangerous neighborhoods. If they get lost in the process of finding a site location they would be lost on foot. This is complete foolishness that clearly exposes the lack of appreciation that the District businesses have for the already overwhelmed employees.”
In a letter to agency heads, Attorney Peter Nickles, last week said that the restrictions were being put in place for District employees that use government and personal vehicles. Nickles additionally notes that the use of a personal vehicle is not an employee’s right but is within the discretion of the appropriate supervisor. As a result of “District’s current budget constraints to pay damage claims made by District employees…supervisors should not approve the use of private vehicles by District employees for official business.”
Bowman said the union is looking into further legal action and has asked Nickles to reverse the policy. Once District employees daily travel needs are fulfilled, they will be better able to serve the community.