FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2002
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

This is Not the Way to Make the American People More Secure

(Washington, D.C.)—In a strongly-worded letter to Senators, Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), urges “Members of Congress not to abrogate the Legislative Branch’s responsibility to the American people and the Federal workforce by giving to the Secretary of the Homeland Security Department ‘…sole and unreviewable discretion…,’ with mere notification to Congress.”

Harnage emphasizes in his letter that the “lame duck” version of the Homeland Security bill includes no check on the flexibility given to managers, no matter how radical or unprecedented those changes might be.

“The ‘lame duck’ version would give managers the unilateral authority to write their own rules on such important civil service matters as pay, classifications, firings and demotions—without any involvement at all from the Congress—and establish their own immense bureaucratic fiefdom in which they could bestow favors on their cronies and punish whistle-blowers or any other conscientious employees who refuse to toe the political line,” Harnage states.

“Given that the Administration has already abused its authority under law to arbitrarily strip collective bargaining rights from employees on a national security pretext, enactment of the ‘lame duck’ version would jeopardize the collective bargaining rights of tens of thousands of employees,” he adds.

Harnage accuses the Administration of being at war with rank-and-file federal employees. “If their jobs aren’t privatized, this Administration is determined to gut their civil service protections or bust their unions,” he states.

“The homeland security legislation has allowed the Administration to advance long-stalled schemes to eliminate the checks and balances ensured by collective bargaining and to transform the civil service into a politicized workforce of hacks and cronies,” Harnage concludes. “It started with the Transportation Security Administration, it continues with the Department of Homeland Security, and we can count on the Administration to go even further next year.”

View full text of President Harnage's letter.

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