Key House Panel Chairman Launches Wide-Ranging Attack On Federal Workers’ Rights

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

In a move that could harm approximately 2.8 million workers – union and non-union, Postal Service workers, other federal workers and D.C. workers alike – a key GOP House committee chairman launched a wide-ranging attack on workers’ rights.

The solon’s scheme, unveiled Feb. 4, drew a blast from J. David Cox, a retired VA nurse and president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union. He called the Workplace Rights Act, by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., “venomous.”

Price’s bill, HR4461, would make the entire U.S. and D.C. governments – including the Postal Service – a so-called “right to work” fiefdom, would ban payroll deductions for politics and would ban card-check recognition.

He also would roll back federal labor rules ordering more contact information for union organizers and would mandate that to win a recognition vote, the union must get an absolute majority of all workers, not just of those voting.

Price “would strip federal employees of their basic workplace rights and disempower the people who care for our veterans, inspect our food, and deliver our Social Security checks, Cox said. He called it “yet another in a long line of systematic attacks on working-class and middle-class Americans at the local, state and federal levels.

“The sole objective of these anti-labor actions is to make it as difficult as possible for working people to join unions and to diminish basic rights and protections that all employees deserve,” Cox added. That’s a key goal of big business, the Radical Right and their political puppets nationwide.

The union leader pointed out that “only federal employees who choose to join the union pay union membership dues,” Cox said. AFGE has more than 320,000 members, and other federal worker unions have hundreds of thousands more, combined.

"This is just the latest in a string of venomous attacks targeting the federal workforce,” including yanking due process rights from VA workers, ending civil service protections for VA and workers and instituting a 2-year probation period for new federal workers.

“When you take away an employee’s basic rights to representation and due process, you end up with a system in which employees are fearful of coming forward to expose waste, fraud and abuse at their worksites. These types of poisonous proposals will result in higher turnover and make it that much harder for agencies to recruit the best and brightest” workers.

The fact that Price introduced it is important: As Budget Committee Chairman, he could tuck HR4461  into the annual spending blueprint – the budget resolution – Congress passes every year, or into the so-called “reconciliation” bill, tax and spending changes needed to implement that blueprint.  A president can sign or veto reconciliation, but not the budget resolution

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