President Donald Trump issued a memo that stabs at the heart of labor unions in a move that could abolish union rights for up to 750,000 federal workers.
For decades, federal workers have enjoyed the right to unionize, thanks to an executive order signed by former President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
But now those rights are directly threatened by Trump, who gave Defense Secretary Mark Esper the power to crush unionization of Defense Department employees if he feels that they jeopardize national security.
As we all know, national security has been used as an umbrella excuse for years to restrict rights and hide information, but it’s been weaponized by the Trump administration to justify him doing anything he wants.
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That apparently includes killing the right of federal employees to unionize.
“When new missions emerge or existing ones evolve, the Department of Defense requires maximum flexibility to respond to threats,” the memo said. “This flexibility requires that military and civilian leadership manage their organizations to cultivate a lethal, agile force adaptive to new technologies and posture changes. Where collective bargaining is incompatible with these organizations’ missions, the Department of Defense should not be forced to sacrifice its national security mission and, instead, seek relief through third parties and administrative fora.”
This leaves over half a million federal employees at risk of having their rights crushed by an increasingly authoritarian state in a climate that has become ever more hostile to workers.
The memo claims that this power to kill unions is necessary to “protect the American people,” but the American Federation of Government Employees strongly condemned it.
Denying nearly half a million DoD workers the collective bargaining rights guaranteed to them by law since 1962 would be a travesty and a disgrace to the sacred oath and obligation that all federal workers make to their country. #1u https://t.co/0yMK5ONmSv
— AFGE (@AFGENational) February 20, 2020
Economic Policy Institute distinguished fellow Larry Mishel also called out the flimsy excuse.
Denying collective bargaining to those working for Pentagon, on pretense that ‘flexibility’ is needed and not possible, is atrocious. Any examples of how unions hampered defense? I doubt it. https://t.co/Ekyhnut1kC
— Larry Mishel (@LarryMishel) February 20, 2020
This attack on American workers follows an effort by Senate Republicans to kill pensions that millions of retirees and active employees rely on.
The reason Americans have pensions today is because unions fought for them, along with shorter work weeks and better pay. This assault on union rights threatens to undo all of that progress.
Trump cannot seriously claim to support American workers if he is working to destroy unions and the right to unionize.
Featured image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore, under Creative Commons license 2.0
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