April 02, 2018
Chanting “No bargaining, no justice!” and “We fight for workers’ rights!,” hundreds of AFGE members and labor allies rallied outside the Department of Education headquarters on March 28 to protest the department’s assault on its own workers.
“Make no mistake, brothers and sisters – this is not an attempt to slow us down. This is an attempt to kill us,” Sharon Harris, executive vice president of AFGE Council 252, told the crowd. “They don’t want a union. They don’t want employees with any rights at all.”
After months of hostility at the bargaining table, Department of Education management told AFGE Council 252 that it was no longer willing to negotiate. Management threw out the contract that the council had previously bargained – which was still in effect – and replaced it with an anti-union directive that strips 3,900 workers we represent of all previously negotiated rights and protections.
AFGE organized the rally to raise awareness of the issue and to call on Secretary DeVos to return to the bargaining table.
“It’s time to get back to the table so we can negotiate a fair contract on behalf of the workers who keep this agency running,” Council President Claudette Young said.
What’s happening to employees at the Department of Education is part of a larger assault on federal employees across the country, including at the VA, EPA, and Bureau of Prisons, AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Joe Flynn said.
“This administration won’t stop until every union has been busted, every contract has been ripped up, and every employee lives in fear of losing his or her job,” Flynn said.
Dozens of allies from fellow unions turned out at the rally to show their support for the Education workers, including members from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Working America, the Teamsters, the Seafarers International Union of North America, the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Congressman Don Beyer from Virginia also came out to show his support, telling the crowd that Secretary DeVos has expanded her vendetta against public education and public teachers into a larger assault on federal labor unions.
“This is the Trump administration’s latest attack on the labor movement,” Beyer said.