Trump's VA Kicks Out 244 Union Officers
Release Time cut by 50% as conditions at VA decline
Back in November UCOMM Blog reported that unions at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received eviction notices. These notices were ordered by Trump as part of his anti-union Executive Orders that he signed in 2018. Along with kicking the AFGE out of their union offices within VA buildings, AFGE officials were told they would be losing significant amounts of “union time,” which is time that officials are able to do union business like represent a member in a disciplinary hearing, while still being paid.
The plan was to be enacted in January and now 6 months later, the VA is bragging about the changes that they made. According to a report from the Department, the VA has forced 244 of the 330 bargaining units out of their collectively bargained for offices. The Department claims this will free up 150,000 square feet of space. The other 86 bargaining units have decided to stay, but will be paying rent to the VA, which they claim will raise $1.4 Million a year for the Department. This would mean that on average the VA is charging about $16,000 a year for each office.
The report also says that in the first quarter of the year, which ended in April, union time had been cut in half over the final quarter of 2019.
It is important to remember that union time and offices within federal buildings are parts of their collective bargaining agreements with the federal government. By taking these away Trump and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie are unilaterally violating the CBA. They are hoping to make it harder for the union to defend its members allowing Trump to gain more control over the hiring and firing of non-partisan federal workers.