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Trump's Attacks Increase Union Membership

Federal Unions say that Trump's attacks on the Federal workforce are leading more employees to join the union

Brian Young's picture
Oct 09, 2017

Threats to the federal workforce have been coming since Trump won the presidency. Talk of draining the swamp included cuts to many federal departments budgets. Trump also instituted new censorship rules on departments that caused some, like scientists studying the effects of global warming, to worry that they were on a list to be fired, have their funding cut, or at the very least silenced. With all of this chaos, workers have been looking towards their unions for protection.

While federal government workers are organized in unions like the American Federal Government Employees (AFGE), they are not required to be a member or pay agency fees. Essentially, the federal government is Right to Work. Currently, about 27% (960,000 federal workers) are dues paying union members but over the last year that number has begun to steadily increase. According to the Washington Post, since Trump took over AFGE has seen a 5,000-member increase. In September alone, 1,022 new members joined AFGE. Other federal unions like the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFEE) are reporting a 7% increase in membership this year.

This increase in membership comes at a crucial time for the federal workers. Trump announced last month that he was going to end the labor management forums that former President Barack Obama established to streamline communication between the bureaucracy and the White House. In July, when Trump announced his appointees for the Federal Services Impasses Panel, a group that resolves disputes between labor and the federal agencies, union leaders and federal employees were aghast. “The diversity of this panel ranges from people who publicly campaign against unions to people that actively litigate against unions. I have little faith that this panel can properly evaluate a dispute without inherent bias or personal ideology interfering,” said Randy Erwin, President of NFEE.

These actions are on top of proposed cuts that are making their way through Congress. Some of the cuts include a Congressional budget proposal to reduce healthcare subsidies for federal workers. According to AFGE, their members will face a 6.1% increase in the cost of their health benefits next year and Congress is proposing to increase this even more. This would completely eliminate the 1.9% raise that they are scheduled to receive in January. Congress is also proposing $32 Billion in cuts to the federal government, over the next 10 years, that experts say could include cuts to retirement plans for current workers.

Federal employees are finally realizing that the only way to have a strong voice that can compete with Congress and the White House is to make sure their union is strong. Given a choice, these employees are finally taking action, standing together and reorganizing with the union.

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