WORCESTER, MA – Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), a senior House Democrat and active voice in Congress for workers’ rights, released the following statement in response to President Trump’s recent issuing of a series of executive orders intended to strip federal employees of their right to representation at the worksite.
“President Trump promised American workers that he would have their backs, but these executive orders are just the latest example of how he’s broken that promise,” Congressman McGovern said. “This is a blatant attack by President Trump on the legal rights and protections on the 2 million workers who proudly serve our country in the public sector. Congress specifically guaranteed these rights and protections to ensure that our civil servants would have a strong voice in the workplace.
“America’s federal workers serve our country in so many ways. Whether it’s ensuring our food is safe to eat, caring for our wounded veterans, or helping cities recover from hurricanes and other disasters, they are always putting their fellow citizens first,” McGovern added. “They deserve our thanks, not these harmful executive orders which will eliminate the protections they deserve. This is just wrong and I will work with my colleagues in Congress to reverse this policy and do all we can to protect these essential worker rights.”
The executive orders issued by President Trump call for:
• Negotiating new contracts with federal employee unions. Agencies are also encouraged to complete labor negotiations in less than a year.
• Renegotiating contracts to limit to 25 percent the amount of time federal employees who are authorized to work on behalf of a labor union can spend on union business during work hours. The order also cuts back on the ability of workers to pursue complaints against their employer on official time.
• Shortening the length of time it takes to terminate a federal worker for poor performance or misconduct.
What the executive orders fail to mention is the potential impact these changes would have on worker representatives who have used official time in ways that directly benefit taxpayers. In the past, they have used this time to:
• Blow the whistle on management’s attempt to cover up an outbreak of Legionnaires disease that killed and sickened veterans in Pittsburgh;
• Address an incident in which a noose was placed on the chair of an African-American worker at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia;
• Mitigate the impact of Army downsizing on employees and their families;
• Expedite the processing of benefits to veterans and their survivors; and
• Successfully negotiate equipping federal correctional officers with pepper spray to keep them safe on the job.