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Trump's Workforce Turmoil at Social Security Administration

Trump is insisting on anti-union policies in a new CBA at the Social Security Administration

Brian Young's picture
May 07, 2019

In May of 2018 Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) severely limiting federal unions ability to represent their members. In August, an appeals court struck down most of the provisions within the order saying that they violated the collective bargaining agreement between the Federal government and the unions.

Months later, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is negotiating with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). However, negotiations have stalled over the SSA’s insistence that the regressive policies included in EO be negotiated into the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This would include severe restrictions on elected union officials “union time.” This is the time that these elected officials are able to take part in union activities like representing members in a grievance hearing.

SSA is also insisting on evicting AFGE out of their offices that are on government property and confiscating computers, laptops, and printers that are used by employees in their representational duties. Cleary with direction from Trump and the White House, the SSA is refusing to make any progress on a new contract until these items are included.

This move has angered a number of Representatives in Congress who sent a letter to Acting Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill demanding that she negotiate in good faith with AFGE. The letter, which is signed by more than 150 members of Congress says that these proposals from Trump and the SSA would “diminish labor protections and the collective bargaining rights that Congress intended and will have a severe, destabilizing effect on agency operations and employee morale and SSA’s ability to deliver timely and efficient services to the elderly and persons with disabilities.”

“At every turn, President Trump continues to attack hardworking federal employees at the SSA who are dedicated to the public good. Despite his repeated pledge to defend Social Security, this Administration’s continued attacks on the workers who assist Social Security beneficiaries will weaken agency operations by worsening customer service and lengthening call wait times,” Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senior Chief Deputy Whip, said. “I cannot believe I have to send another letter asking Acting SSA Commissioner Berryhill to come back to the bargaining table and change her extreme bargaining position, which recent court cases show is illegal. I urge the Commissioners to resolve the impasse and get back to having a sufficient number of staff that are adequately serving the hard-working Americans who are just trying to access the benefits owed to them.”

Click here to download the letter.

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