Lawmakers oppose Trump move to cut union bargaining for DoD feds

Lawmakers oppose Trump move to cut union bargaining for DoD feds

A bipartisan group of six U.S. lawmakers are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his decision to let Pentagon leaders strip collective bargaining rights from military civilian employees.

In the latest instance of Capitol Hill opposition to the move, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, led a letter sent Thursday to Trump arguing that exemptions to civil service law ought to be well considered and used sparingly.

“More than 700,000 Americans work civilian jobs for the Department of Defense. They are dedicated to the Department’s mission and a part of the Department’s successes,” the senators wrote. “This new memorandum provides the Secretary of Defense and other department officials with the blanket authority to waive the collective bargaining rights of all of these employees when, in fact, labor organizations and collective bargaining in the civil service are in the public interest.”

“A fair collective bargaining process is a cornerstone of American labor law and a right afforded to employees within the federal government,” the letter reads. “The Department of Defense has a history of working with labor unions that represent the interests of employees … We urge you to reconsider this new memorandum and work to protect the collective bargaining rights of federal employees, including those at the Department of Defense.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Gary Peters, D-Mich.

Kaine, and House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., said separately that they would look to resolve the issue through the nascent 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

“I am deeply concerned that this administration, which routinely invokes national security emergencies without merit, is doing so again to deny federal workers at these agencies their earned collective bargaining rights — rights that ensure safe workplaces, fair benefits and just compensation,” Brown said in a statement last week. His district is home to 50,000 federal employees.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper declined to commit to using the new authority while appearing before the HASC and said that he did not request it. He said he was still reviewing the recent presidential decision and that he was not involved in the decision by the White House.

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