Betsy DeVos Faces Allegations of Union-Busting in the Department of Education

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that they failed to negotiate “in good faith” with the union over a new contract. To wit, the American Federation of Government Employee is seeking to hit Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s department with an unfair labor practice charge.

“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). According to the press release by AFGE, the CBA was an illegal 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 Monday.

The union represents 3,900 Education Department employees across the country.

The announcement continues to explain:

"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. For this reason, Congress provided representational time so that the union can carry out its legal duty of fair representation to all those who 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."

According to Politico, the Department of Education claims that AFGE forced the agreement on themselves.

"The union spent more than a year dragging its feet on ground rules negotiations without reaching any agreement, and then failed to respond in timely manner to negotiate over the contract proposed by the Department," spokeswoman Liz Hill said in a statement to Politico.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.