Department of Education Aims to Bust the Union By Terminating New Contract

From the AFGE

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made headlines over the past year for attacking both teachers and students. Now her management team has set its sights on us. 

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 did not agree to the terms of the illegal document that the Education Department is now masquerading as a collective bargaining agreement. In fact, members voted to reject the so-called contract on March 5, yet management forced this this illegal document on the membership anyway. 

AFGE’s national office filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Federal Labor Relations Authority on March 12 to stop the Education Department from implementing its illegal management edict. 

We are eager to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair and just contract, which all employees deserve.

Management’s illegal document strips workers of all previously negotiated rights and protections, forces employees to file SF-1187s every year to remain a union member, and prevents union leaders and stewards from representing employees by severely restricting the use of official time. 

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

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Reposted from AFGE

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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