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Legislative Updates

State of Union highlights potential danger for federal employees

In President Trump’s first State of the Union address last night, he called on Congress to expand the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (S. 1094, reported by NALC here) to all of the government by removing “federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

Among other provisions within the bill, S. 1094 undermined civil service protections that ensure VA employment is based on merit and not on political affiliation. The legislation overrode negotiated grievance and arbitration procedures in existing collective-bargaining agreements entered into by the VA. Additionally, it significantly lowered the standard of evidence that the agency must satisfy to remove an employee for misconduct. This has already lead to large-scale firings, 1,500 employees so far, and could lead to an increase in the targeting of frontline employees—many of whom are veterans—for unjust reasons, including politics and retaliation for reporting mismanagement.

Under the guise of “accountability” and “trust,” the President encouraged Congress to spread this dangerous policy across all federal agencies in an attempt to undermine the remaining civil service protections that exist to provide a safeguard against corruption, mismanagement and political favoritism.

While the bill does not impact the Postal Service, NALC opposed this legislation or any attempt to force new employees to work “at-will,” or to strip federal workers of their protections.

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