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VA

Systemic Racism at Trump's VA

Data shows twice as many white workers are getting promoted at the VA under Trump

Brian Young's picture
Oct 16, 2020

Trump’s public statements have always shown that he was racist, he refused to denounce hate groups and said that Mexicans were bringing drugs into the country and were rapists. Now new data shows that under Trump at least one Department has been enacting these racist policies.

Data that was acquired by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) shows that white workers at the VA were nearly twice as likely to be promoted as black ones. The union found that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 a total of 40,578 Black individuals applied for management positions, with 1,012 individuals selected for those positions. The selection rate was 2.5%. A total of 58,803 white individuals applied for management positions, with 2,745 individuals selected for those positions. The selection rate was 4.7%. In total 176,352 individuals of all races applied for management positions, with 6,711 individuals selected for those positions.

This trend continued in 2020 (through July 13th) when 74,578 individuals applied for management positions, with 2,620 individuals selected for those positions. Of those, 17,257 Black individuals applied for management positions, with 436 individuals selected for those positions. The selection rate was 2.5%. A total of 22,650 white individuals applied for management positions, with 989 individuals selected for those positions. The selection rate was 4.4%.

This is not the first time that accusations of racism have been made at the VA. In August, AFGE reported a survey of their members that 78% said racism was a problem in the department. The Department has also been under increased scrutiny over Trump appointed Robert Wilke as Department Secretary who is a longtime member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group is responsible for many of the Confederate statues erected over the last 20 years and have been some of the biggest proponents of the flawed idea that the Civil War was about heritage and not slavery.

“These troubling statistics point to an underlying bias at the VA against Black workers and validate the complaints our members have shared regarding the systemic racism they face every day while simply trying to serve our nation’s veterans and war heroes,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said.

While Trump spends a lot of time on the campaign trail touting the “work” he did at the VA, it is clear there are still many issues that were not addressed. Rather than fix the VA, Trump has attacked the workers calling them Trump’s public statements have always shown that he was racist, he refused to denounce hate groups and said that Mexicans were bringing drugs into the country and were rapists. Now new data shows that under Trump at least one Department has been enacting these racist policies.and worked to weaken the union that is standing up for equality at the VA.

“We are at a crossroads in American history. COVID-19 has put all federal workers, especially those at the VA at high risk,” AFGE NVAC President Alma Lee said. “VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has failed to protect VA staff not only from COVID-19 but from systemic racism that has plagued the VA. To add to these issues, Secretary Wilkie wants to destroy the NVAC’s Master Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our 265,000 bargaining unit employees have everything to lose if we allow the current president and VA secretary to destroy what we have worked so hard to build. Our rights, our livelihoods, and our very lives are at risk during this pandemic. We must act now to defend our careers at the VA.”

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