June 23, 2005 – Seeking to halt an overhaul of federal work rules that some fear will undo the present civil service system, five unions representing federal employees filed an injunction against the Department of Homeland Security, calling for a halt in the implementation of new rules until a study of the effects can be concluded.
The action, taken in Washington DC District Court, is the most recent salvo from federal employee unions concerned that new personnel rules in government agencies are designed to undermine workersâ€™ bargaining power and further diminish support for organized labor.
The unions are seeking answers to questions of legality of some of the new regulations and the effect the rules will have on federal employees and the work they produce, according to the National Treasury Employees Union.
In a statement issued in conjunction with the court filing, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which took the lead role in filing the injunction, said the proposed regulations weaken collective bargaining rights by abrogating agreements on underpinning issues. At risk are overtime pay, work assignment, management relations and other collectively bargained provisions, the NTEU said.
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told an audience consisting mostly federal employees Tuesday that the Bush administration was instituting policies that would decrease the quality if work and drive down federal employeesâ€™ incomes. "This is about money â€“ not about providing the best possible service to the American taxpayer," Gage said of the personnel changes.