Speakers were echoed by repeated chants from the crowd of “Hell no, the union is not going to go.”
“It’s not collective, it’s not bargained, and it’s not anything we agreed to,” said Claudette Young, president of Council 252, an AFGE sector representing the agency’s predominantly minority workforce. Other speakers, including Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., warned DeVos’ “contract” is one part of the wider war the GOP Trump administration is waging against unions in general and federal worker unions in particular. “She doesn’t understand how federal labor relations work, but we shouldn’t be surprised,” Beyer said of DeVos. “Her vendetta against public education has now transformed into gutting public workers.” As a GOP big giver in her home state of Michigan, DeVos was known for the same policies she now champions for Trump: Gutting public schools in favor of charters and vouchers, privatization and trashing teachers unions. “What DeVos and her management are doing is not unique to the Department of Education,” said Flynn. “We’ve seen it at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where they’re working to gut civil service protections and collective bargaining rights.”
“We’ve seen it at the EPA, where Administrator Greg Pruitt is pushing staff and budget cuts which prevent the EPA workers from doing their jobs. We’ve seen it at the Bureau of Prisons, where staffing shortages and budget cuts put our corrections officers at risk.”
“Are you ready to get out of your seats?” he called, aiming his words at other federal workers in nearby buildings who could watch the protest from their windows. “Yes!” the AFGE members and their allies from other unions responded. “Are you ready to get into the streets?” “Yes!” “Are you ready to turn up the heat?” “Yes!” “Are you ready to give ‘em hell?” “Yes!”
- report by Mark Gruenberg, PAI News; photos by Chris Garlock/Union City
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