Federal Employee Union Responds to House Committees Targeting Federal Employees and VeteransWednesday, March 8, 2017
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Contact: Steve Lenkart (202)
Federal Employee Union Responds to House Committees Targeting Federal Employees and Veterans
Washington, D.C. – Today, in two separate committees in the House of Representatives, veterans and federal employees came one step closer to losing several levels of checks and balances that could affect everything from government whistleblowing to the impact of health and medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reported out of committee H.R. 1364, a measure that penalizes any employee on “official time” — time allowed for the evaluation of management policies and workplace representation — by stripping away the time as creditable service toward retirement even though it is part of their official duties. The bill’s original sponsor, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), deceived the committee by claiming that official time allows union and political activity while on duty, which is false and in fact prohibited by law.
“Some Republicans in Congress are perpetuating lies about official time,” stated Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. “They are purposely misleading people about what official time is. In particular they are trying to convince folks that official time is used for internal union business and political activity, when it simply is not used for those purposes. Now they are trying to take away workers’ retirement security because they served as a Union representative. This legislation is vindictive and wrong.”
On a separate action, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TX) approved his own measure to create near at-will employment at the VA through his bill, H.R. 1259, ironically named the VA Accountability First Act. The bill would abolish meaningful systematic protections that help ensure a high quality of medical care for veterans, and it eliminates collective bargaining rights which serve as an accountability function between management and VA staff.
“Chairman Roe is selling out veterans by pushing legislation designed to intimidate and silence VA employees,” stated Erwin. “Without systematic protections such as due process and appeals rights for workers, good medical staff can be targeted by unethical managers or political appointees for speaking up and doing the right thing. Workplace protections for VA employees are essential to the care of our cherished veterans.”
“Chairman Roe is a tremendous advocate for the private health care industry which has a great financial interest in capitalizing on our veterans,” Erwin continued. “It would be a welcomed change to see Chairman Roe focus on proper funding for the VA and also providing the training and tools that staff need in order to succeed.”
- Join IAM and NFFE-IAM in opposing these bills. You can take action by telling your representative to vote No on H.R. 1364 and H.R. 1259, here.
- Visit NFFE's "Issues" page to find updated information on official time, including talking points, frequently asked questions, and more.
- View NFFE's Letter to Congress, here.