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Are Unions a Threat to National Security? Government Workers Mobilize Against Bush’s Attempts to Bust Unions in New Homeland Security Department

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The Senate launched a contentious debate on Tuesday over President Bush’s plans for a Homeland Security Department. Democrats flatly rejected White House demands for the power to waive labor-protection laws for its estimated 170,000 workers with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle calling Bush’s proposal “a power grab of unprecedented magnitude’’ that would undermine the government civil service system.

The director of the White House homeland-defense office Tom Ridge also dug in his heels, claiming the new department needs broad powers to hire, fire, promote or demote and pay employees to meet emerging terrorist threats. He said union rights must be waived in matters of national security.

The Senate crafted its own bill to create a Homeland Security bill before the Senate’s August break. White House officials have threatened to veto the Senate bill because it does not give the White House the power to undermine government unions. The White House also opposes a Senate provision that would make the homeland security adviser’s post a statutory office with Senate confirmation. Tom Ridge was not confirmed by the Senate.

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  • Denise Dukes, Management Analyst at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and President of the FEMA Headquarters Union-AFGE, Local 4060.

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  • Jacque Simon, Director of Public Policy, American Federation of Government Employees

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  • T.J. Bonner, 24 year Veteran Border Patrol Agent and President of the National Border Patrol Council of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Union.

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  • Brad Berenson, Counsel to the President

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