Trump Bans Unions from VA
AFGE forced to leave, a slap in the face to those who served just days after Veterans Day
On Friday, federal unions who represent workers at the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) were given eviction notices. The notices come as the VA is pushing to get in compliance with a number of Executive Orders issued by Trump.
In 2018, Trump issued three Executive Orders (EOs) to severely restrict unions' abilities to protect and represent federal workers. The orders were temporarily stopped by a judge, but an Appeals Court overturned the decision and allowed the EOs to go into effect this summer.
Unions like the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) currently have office space in several federal buildings and departments so that they can better represent their members. They get this space rent-free currently. According to the eviction notices, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) will have until January 10th to let the agency know if they will be moving out or will stay and pay rent. If they decide to leave they must be out of their offices by January 31, 2020.
The VA is also restricting the use of union time. In a memo to the union, the VA said union officials will only be able to spend one-quarter of their time doing such work and cannot provide assistance to VA employees pursuing grievances against the department. Of course, the whole point of union time is that they can represent their members when they have a grievance against their bosses, in this case, the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“This is a punitive and illegal action that’s intended to silence employees and discourage them from reporting mismanagement or other abuses that harm veterans’ care,” Alama Lee, President of the AFGE National VA council told Govexec.com. “We will pursue any and all legal options at the national and local levels to challenge this illegal activity and preserve employees’ collective bargaining rights.”
Similar moves are expected at every government agency in the coming weeks and months. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in September ordered all agencies to reopen and renegotiate their collective bargaining agreements (CBA) to be in compliance with Trump’s Executive Order.