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Click here to go to the article and read comments at the Washington Examiner.


To the Examiner:

In your editorial on Monday, you described my union, AFGE,  basically a Federal sector union, as a “powerhouse.”  You asserted that “23 states have right-to-work laws that protect workers who choose not to join unions, and federal employees are not even covered by these laws.  The result is effectively a union shop.”

In fact, the federal government is an open shop.  No one is required to join a union.  What this means in practice is that everyone in the bargaining unit votes for union representation and benefits from the union.  Nevertheless, since Federal employees do not have to pay dues, most of those in the bargaining unit do not join.   We are required to represent them anyway.  If we discriminate in favor of union members, we face an unfair labor practice action before the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

No union is a “powerhouse” in such an environment.  Unions dislike “right to work” laws because there is no incentive for those in the bargaining unit to pay dues.   Thus, in “right to work” states unions are much weaker because they cannot afford to exist in an environment where only 10% of those covered choose to pay dues.   “Right to work” means no real unionization.

Contrary to your editorial, we are not covered by the Wagner Act.  Federal employees cannot bargain over wages, medical benefits, and pensions.  No dues money can go to political campaigns, and we as union leaders are limited in the roles we play per Hatch Act restrictions.

But, among other things, we press management to be better organized (less layers of supervision).  In other words, we often save taxpayers money by promoting efficiency.  We are the real ombudsmen in the Federal government.

I know your antiunion animus, but you should at least be accurate when making allegations.

Maybe if you knew the facts and were rational, you might even support legislation that strengthens Federal sector unions.

Of course, I do not expect such a change in your biases against unions.  I continue to read your newspaper because the price (free) is right and at least the sports and theater sections are objective.

Eddie Eitches,

President, AFGE Local 476 (HUD)


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