Bush yanks union rights from 8,600 federal workers

WASHINGTON (PAI)--He may be on his way out of Washington, but GOP President George W. Bush is still yanking union rights away from federal employees.

His latest victims: 8,600 workers, 1,000 of them now represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, in a range of agencies. Bush, again, used “national security” as an excuse.

“The subdivisions of the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, and the Treasury” listed in his order “have as a primary function intelligence, counterintelligence, investigative, or national security work,” Bush declared.

As a result, federal labor laws that let unions negotiate for those workers “cannot be applied to these subdivisions in a manner consistent with national security requirements and considerations,” he ordered.

While federal workers cannot strike and while their ability to negotiate wages is limited, their unions can bargain over working conditions, grievance procedures and whistleblower protections. But for these workers, not any more, if Bush has his way.

Among the workers Bush tossed out of union protection are those at the Savannah River nuclear reactor, 25 Homeland Security Department agencies -- notably including federal air marshals -- and 5,000 workers in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

AFGE National Organizer Peter Winch said his union will fight Bush’s order and try to get the incoming Obama administration to revoke it. Bush’s prior executive orders banned other groups of federal workers, notably the nation’s publicly employed airport screeners, from union representation on “national security” grounds. Screeners hired by private firms, at five airports nationwide, can unionize.

“Several exclusions by this president were not done for national security reasons, but to stop unions,” Winch said.