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  • RIGHT NOW – House Attacks Union Rights
    Updated On: Apr 30, 2015

    Today, the House of Representatives is mounting an attack on collective bargaining and official time. We need you to call 844-913-7574 RIGHT NOW and tell them: stop attacking my union rights!

    This amendment would eliminate the ability of federal employees to represent all of their coworkers (those who pay dues and those who don’t) while in an official duty status. Official time gives workers the ability to resolve disputes efficiently so employees can get back to work. It protects whistleblowers from retaliation, and helps implement new technology and other innovations to solve workplace problems.

    But the House of Representatives is voting TODAY to change that. Our brothers and sisters need you to call your Representative at 844-913-7574 RIGHT NOW and tell them to oppose Ray Hice's amendment to HR 2029, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

    If it weren't for official time, employees in the VA like Dr. Michelle Washington wouldn't be able to testify to Congress to protect her veteran patients at the VA hospital in Wilmington, DE. Dr. Washington was met with retaliation – but in the end, her efforts while on official time led to more than 1,600 new specialists being hired to care for our nation’s veterans and the retaliatory actions against her were rolled back.

    If it weren't for official time, AFGE Local 2028 President Kathleen Dahl wouldn't have been able to blow the whistle on a faulty water system that led to a Legionnaires disease outbreak that killed six veterans. Her courageous actions saved lives and protected patients at the Pittsburgh VA hospital.

    Collective bargaining and official time allow union members, like you, to do your job well and provide a safety net of representation in case of attack or retaliation. We can't let the House take that away from the VA or any other federal agency.

    So call 844-913-7574 RIGHT NOW and tell them: Official time protects employees, taxpayers and veterans. We must protect our union rights!

    If you would prefer to send a letter to your member of Congress, click here.

    Oppose HICE Amendment to VA Employees’ Collective Bargaining Rights

    What is official time and how is it used?

    • Official time allows federal employees who are volunteer union representatives to represent all their coworkers (those who pay dues and those who don’t) while in an official duty status.  Official time gives workers a voice to resolve disputes efficiently so they can get back to work, protect whistleblowers from retaliation, and implement new technology and other innovations to solve workplace problems.

    • Employees ARE ALLOWED to use official time ONLY to perform representational activities. These include setting procedures that protect employees and veterans from injuries and hospital infections; creating fair employment hiring and promotion procedures for veterans in the VA workforce; establishing flexible work hours and developing telework practices to make VA a competitive employer; improving IT systems for paperless benefit claims and medical records; and representing employees in grievances and disciplinary actions in the most efficient manner possible.

    • Union representatives ARE NOT ALLOWED to use official time to conduct union-specific business, solicit members, hold internal union meetings, elect union officers, or engage in partisan political activities.

    • Official time benefits taxpayers, veterans, and federal employees because it reduces costly employee turnover, improves service to our nation’s heroes, creates a safer workplace, and leads to quicker implementation of agency initiatives. 

    Specific examples of official time use in the VA

    • Dr. Michelle Washington is a member of AFGE at the Wilmington VA hospital who testified before Congress to sound an alarm on a shortage of mental health professionals, including psychologists, to treat troops returning from war with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of her action, VA recently hired more than 1,600 new specialists who provide much-needed help to our country’s veterans.  Instead of being promoted for telling the truth to Congress, hospital managers retaliated against her by stripping her of duties and giving her an unsatisfactory performance review for the first time in her career.  AFGE union representatives used their official time to represent Dr. Washington and roll back the retaliatory actions taken against her by the VA, so she could continue to serve veterans without fear of reprisal.

    • AFGE Local 2028 President Kathleen Dahl used her official time to blow the whistle on the VA’s cover-up of the Legionnaires disease outbreak caused by a faulty water system that killed six veterans and sickened 16 others at the Pittsburgh VA hospital. Her courageous action saved countless lives.

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