Georgia Congressman Introduces Bill to Bust Federal Employee Unions
Recently, Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA) introduced the 2011 Federal Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 122), a bill intended to eliminate union representation for federal workers. This disingenuously-named bill would abolish official time for union activities, robbing federal employees of the time needed to address crucial workplace issues.Though the legislation is sold as a deficit reduction measure, the true intentions of the bill are abundantly clear.
“We knew attacks on the federal workforce and the unions that represent them would be coming in this Congress,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “Sadly, this bill is likely just the beginning.”
The bill would prevent federal employees from using official time to negotiate collective bargaining agreements. Federal workers benefit from the collective bargaining process because they can speak as a uniform group to assert their rights through contract negotiations on working conditions such as leave, hours of work, and health and safety; however, most federal workers are barred by law from negotiating wages and benefits.
Federal agencies also benefit from collective bargaining, which sets out clear expectations for both labor and management. The elimination of official time for bargaining would essentially end collective bargaining rights for federal workers and their unions, since the unions rely on this critical element of the bargaining process.
Congressman Gingrey defends the bill by claiming that eliminating official time will improve the operational efficiency of government, a contention for which he provides no compelling evidence. The fact is that federal worker unions work side by side with agency management to ensure that employee morale is high, rights are protected, and workplace issues are resolved. All of these benefits add up to produce a more efficient and productive federal workforce.
“This bill is an open attack on the rights of federal workers and their unions,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “This type of union-busting legislation has no place in Congress, and we will do everything we can to make sure this bill never sees the light of day.”