Federal Union officials Mobilizing Against Proposed Department Merger
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Federation of Government Employees (NFGE) officials rallied outside the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The rally served as a protest against a possible merger of that OPM with the General Services Administration (GSA). The rally caused House of Representatives Democrats to scramble in an effort to nip the bill in the bud. Next year is an election year after all.
The rally, which featured several House Democrats, is just the beginning. AFGE officials are circulating petitions to defeat the proposed measure.
Nicole Ogyrsko has the story on wtop.com.
Union members are “owning” the functions of the department as if they were in charge of the department.
“We write the policy,” said Marlo Bryant, chief steward for AFGE Local 32, which represents OPM employees. “We write the regulations. We pay your retirement benefits. We pay your health benefits. We do it all. We’re not just OPM HR. We process everything that you think we can’t.”
Donna Brockington, sergeant at arms for AFGE Local 32 and an OPM employee of more than 10 years, said she and her colleagues have been trying to figure out who could be furloughed.
Administration officials warned 150 OPM employees could be furloughed if Congress drags its feet on the merger and the full-year 2020 appropriations bill.
Big Labor friend Rep. Gerry Connolly (public sector unions gave him almost $115,000 in 2018) is fighting for an additional amendment to the 2020 appropriations bill prohibiting any furloughs or reductions-in-force of its employees for the OPM.
“They do not have the statutory authority to do this,” Connolly said of the OPM-GSA merger at Tuesday’s rally. “We’re going to challenge them, if necessary, in a court of law.”
“This is all being rushed on the theory that if they proceed quickly, we will not be able to stop them,” D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said of the merger at Tuesday’s rally. Four out of Norton’s 5 top donors in 2018 were all unions, who gave her PAC $40,000.
Both Connolly and Holmes Norton said they were surprised the administration continued to push the OPM-GSA merger after a May hearing on the proposal. When asked whether the administration seriously thought members of Congress could authorize the merger in a short few months, Weichert acknowledged the agency could use more time.
“What we ought to be doing is not trying to merge OPM with an agency with which it has no relationship in terms of objective, in terms of discipline [and] in terms of expertise that is needed,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said at Tuesday’s protest. “. . . The only conclusion that I can draw is that it is done again to denigrate and undermine federal employees and their rights and their benefits under the civil service system. That’s all that I can think of. . . The other agency is supposed to build morale, not tear it down.”