Labor rights advocates and union officials say the “first victims” of the Bush administration’s Homeland Security Act will be its 170,000 federal workers.
The law gives the administration the authority to waive collective bargaining agreements, grievance proceedings, equal pay for equal work provisions, whistle-blower protections, and more. Managers will have sweeping power to hire, fire, discipline and move workers.
Union officials say the very workers whom Bush would deny their basic rights are the ones whom the public depends on for national safety. Union members are employed in running subways, flying airplanes, staffing hospitals, policing cities and protecting waterways.
The National Treasury Employee’s Union (NTEU) is the nation’s largest independent federal sector union. It represents over 150,000 government workers in nearly thirty federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, United States Customs Service, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Health and Human Services, FDIC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The NTEU will be directly affected by the Homeland Security legislation: NTEU represents nearly 12,000 employees of the US Customs Service. Those workers will be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Colleen M. Kelley, National President of the National Treasury Employee’s Union.