Union Declares ‘Boldest Agenda’ But to Strengthen Federal Employee Rights, Pay and Advantages

National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, Everett Kelley, announced on Sunday a comprehensive agenda to reverse the Trump administration’s workforce policy and improve workers’ rights, wages and benefits across the federal government.

At the union’s annual legislative conference held practically this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelley congratulated members on persevering in an administration that union officials appear to have aimed at eliminating collective bargaining in federal agencies. He then quickly switched to a laundry list with policy proposals to strengthen workers’ rights.

“While we may be tempted to take a deep breath, pat our back, and let our guards down for a moment, we don’t have that luxury,” he said. “We have to call out what Dr. [Martin Luther] King Jr. called the “wild urgency of now”. . . because windows of opportunity rarely stay open for long. We need to undo all the damage that has been done over the past four years and explore new avenues to empower our members, expand their rights and improve their jobs. We need to revitalize our organization, expand our union, and take our power to new levels. We only have two years to adopt the boldest agenda AFGE has proposed in all of my time with our major union. “

Kelley applauded President Biden’s Executive Order, which reversed three Trump-era executive orders aimed at phasing out federal sector unions, and lifted the Schedule F job classification that protects thousands of federal employees from due process Lawsuits could have deprived, and an order that excludes federal agencies and contractors from participating in so-called “divisive” diversity and inclusion training. But he said the union must now negotiate with the agencies to remove these provisions from their contracts and press Congress to take new safeguards.

“We must fight for the swift passage of the FAIR bill, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., And Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, to give federal employees a long overdue raise of $ 3 in 2022. 2% to allow. ” Said Kelley. “You all more than deserve it, and now we have to get it. We must fight to restore COVID paid sickness benefits [by Congress] last march. It should be automatic and permanent for federal employees to be given extra paid vacation when they are diagnosed with COVID or when caring for someone with COVID. “

Kelley also urged the administration to restore all Veterans Department employees to collective bargaining rights and appropriate process protection, including repealing the VA Mission Act and VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. And he called on Congress to give the Transportation Security Administration staff the full protection of Title 5.

“It’s outrageous that [transportation security officers] do not have full collective bargaining rights, worker protection under the [Fair Labor Standards Act] and the [Family and Medical Leave Act], fair pay and [Merit Systems Protections Board] Rights of appeal, ”he said. “TSOs worked heroically and at great risk during the pandemic and must have the same rights and protective rights as all federal employees. And we must fight to end the brutal retirement cuts in 2012 and 2013 that have cost our members $ 12 billion so far. It wasn’t called then, it is not called now, and it’s long gone to undo them. “

Democrats told union members that they would have partners in Congress who would be willing to help them achieve their goals, especially after the tumult of the past four years.

“For the past four years I have stood before the men and women of AFGE as an ally in the struggle, and now I am proud to stand before you as an ally in the reconstruction,” said Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader. “[I’ll] We pride ourselves on continuing to advocate our federal workforce heroes get better wages, better performance, and better recognition. And I’m working very hard to ensure that parity between the military and civilians in terms of that [annual pay increases] is a reality. “

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer highlighted the Biden administration’s efforts to improve workplace safety in the federal government, including an order mandating the wearing of face masks in federal facilities and a newly-empowered health and safety agency.

“The new administration is off to a good start in reversing some of Trump’s worst attacks on federal employees and ordering OSHA to finally provide clearer guidelines to protect people in the workplace from COVID, but we must move on,” he said. “As the majority leader, I will ensure that those appointed by President Biden are strong allies of work and advocate safety in the workplace during this health crisis. . . We’ll end the job of making sure federal employees get paid parental leave. We will make sure that health insurance remains affordable, that safety standards remain in place in the workplace and, most importantly, we will make sure that you stay safe until this nasty pandemic subsides. “

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