Norcross, Brown Lead Bipartisan Letter Pushing Back Against Department Of Veterans Affairs’ Union-Busting Efforts
June 10, 2019
Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) and Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) sent a letter co-signed by a bipartisan group of 128 Members of Congress to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, pushing back on the department’s anti-labor policies in its collective bargaining with AFGE, the union representing 260,000 of its frontline employees.
In the letter, the Members assert their belief that the VA is not acting in good faith, and is attempting to, “precipitate a breakdown in negotiations by insisting on proposals that are similar to specific provisions of Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13837.” Provisions of these Executive Orders, designed to remove barriers to terminating employees, cut official time, and curb union power, were recently struck down by the courts. This has not deterred the administration, however, which now aims to undermine thousands of civil servants at the bargaining table.
“In order to improve the VA, we must empower our civil servants who are on the frontlines standing up for our veterans day in and day out. That means our VA employees must be able to join together and advocate to raise wages and improve their benefits, like health care and retirement,” said Congressman Norcross, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I know how important it is for workers to have a voice in the workplace because I lived it. I sat at the negotiating table fighting for working families for decades and, now, we must make sure workers at the VA can continue to exercise their rights. The Administration must stop these draconian actions that fly in the face of court decisions and aim to keep VA employees away from bargaining tables.”
“This strategy from Department of Veterans Affairs is unacceptable, and fits a disturbing pattern of assault on our nation’s civil servants by the President and his administration,” said Congressman Brown, an Iraq War Veteran and Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee. “Improving the VA is a bipartisan priority, and by pursuing this cynical strategy, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Wilkie, and President Trump and sabotaging the bipartisan work Congress is doing to strengthen the VA.”