For Immediate Release
Head of Largest Federal Employee Union Testifies Before House Subcommittee on 'Revitalizing the Federal Workforce'
AFGE president urges action to build trust, morale, and capacity of federal workforce following traumatic past four years.
WASHINGTON - American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley testified today before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations at its hearing, “Revitalizing the Federal Workforce.”
Below are quotable highlights from President Kelley’s prepared testimony:
• Protecting the rights of federal employees is the number one way to restore trust and morale. “Weakening civil service protections and merit-based processes and procedures in the name of speed and ease is a terrible mistake. Hiring and firing federal employees requires deliberate rule-based steps for a good reason: to make sure that the federal workforce is hired and fired based solely on merit factors such as demonstrable skills and credentials.”
• Rebuilding capacity in federal agencies requires restoring adequate staffing levels. “The hollowing out of federal agencies during the past administration’s reign has been well-documented. Corrections officers in the federal Bureau of Prisons are forced to work enormous quantities of mandatory overtime and administrative personnel are being used excessively to supplement the Corrections workforce. The severe understaffing of federal prisons combined with the dangers of the pandemic raging through the close quarters of these institutions have created almost unbearable working conditions.”
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• Federal wages and salaries are too low for agencies to be competitive. “For decades think tanks and contractors and academics have written lengthy reports about obstacles to federal hiring, but when the same job in the private sector pays 20 percent to 40 percent more, we lose candidates. There is no justification for underpaying federal employees and we will continue to press the case for higher pay across-the-board.”
• Undoing the Trump administration’s anti-worker orders will require aggressive action from Biden administration. “The sad truth is that the previous administration introduced a toxic level of unfairness, distrust, and disrespect between management and labor in most, if not all, federal agencies. Every element of the relationship has suffered.”
• The Office of Personnel Management must be strengthened. “The lack of policy consistency across the federal government threatens the merit system, and it is facilitated in part by the gradual outsourcing of OPM’s core statutory functions. Efforts to strip away or contract out OPM’s functions undermines the overall management of the civil service and are a dangerous substitute for full-staffing of OPM.”
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The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.