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Public Employee Press

Destroying federal workers’ rights

The Trump administration, the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress and their allies in the anti-union movement have begun a direct assault on labor on several fronts.

At the moment, the main attack plan is against federal workers.

In a series of actions, Republicans in the U.S. Congress began acting on President Donald J. Trump’s primary objective known as “the deconstruction of the administrative state,” which aims to dramatically reduce the size of the federal workforce and smash government institutions.

In so doing, the GOP-controlled government will shrink vital services in a number of departments, shred the safety net of social services and diminish the power of unions to protect their members.

A bill before Congress aims to reduce the retirement benefits of workers—particularly federal employee union leaders, who use official time to provide assistance to members through contract bargaining, labor-management groups and enforcement of workplace safety protections.

Another bill goes after the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Other proposed legislation would make it easier for managers to terminate, suspend and demote workers. If enacted, the legislation would overturn the long-established notice and reply periods in disciplinary cases to only 10 days.

This would make it almost impossible for embattled workers to fight back against management in disciplinary cases.

One of Tennessee’s U.S. Congress members, Republican Phil Roe, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, was blunt about his intent to “eliminate the ability for unions to use existing grievance procedures to dispute major actions.”

This effort to overturn civil service and union protections for federal workers built up over decades lays out a roadmap for state and local governments to further weaken public employee unions, like Gov. Scott Walker did in Wisconsin in 2011.

We cannot allow our sisters and brothers in the federal workforce to be crushed by these radical right-wing attacks. We must fight to help them maintain their rights and dignity as civil servants and union members.