Betsy DeVos faces allegations of union-busting in the Department of Education

Betsy DeVos is facing allegations of union-busting in the Department of Education. – Yuri Gripas/Reuters

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the U.S. Department of Education under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, alleging that they failed to negotiate in good faith with the union over a new contract.

“The Education Department has imposed on its workers an illegal document that we had absolutely no bargaining over,” AFGE Council 252 President Claudette Young said in a statement. “Secretary Betsy DeVos and her management team are attempting to strip employees of their collective bargaining rights and kill the union.”

After months of alleged “hostile behavior” from the Department of Education, AFGE was told that the Department wouldn’t negotiate and instead would implement their own rules with a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) –– an illegal document, according to AFGE, agreement that would “gut” employee rights – such as “workplace health and safety, telework, and alternative work schedules.”

The forced rules, according to AFGE, require some employees to carry out their statutory representational duties without pay — such as meetings to resolve workplace conflict, meetings to address issues like discrimination, and bettering work processes. The agreement went into effect on March 12.

AFGE represents 3,900 Education Department employees across the country.

“Joining the union is voluntary for workers, yet AFGE and other federal unions are required by law to represent everyone covered by the union contract – even if they choose not to join,” Young said. “For this reason, Congress provided representational time so that the union can carry out its legal duty of fair representation to all those whow are covered by the contract, including those who choose not to pay dues. Removing access to this time is like asking the fire department to operate without firetrucks or a firehose.

“AFGE did not agree to these unilateral terms,” Young said. “AFGE is, and has been, eager to return to the table to negotiate a fair and just contract, which all employees deserve.”

(Reprinted from Salon.)

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