Top Federal Workers Union Lists Priorities for Obama
Once he takes office, President-elect Obama should issue an executive order re-establishing the federal sector labor-management partnership and all federal agencies should have to review service contracts and cancel wasteful ones, according to recommendations issued today by the National Treasury Employees Union.
The group represents roughly 150,000 federal employees and 31 agencies or departments. It also wants Obama to provide Transportation Security Administration employees with collective bargaining rights and the same pay system as most other federal employees, as well as end the Internal Revenue Service's use of private tax collectors.
"This is not a wish list. this is a framework for what we see as a very serious discussion," said NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley. "I think President-elect Obama is very much in-synch with NTEU with these issues." The group has sent the recommendations to the Obama transition office and hopes to schedule meetings with representatives soon.
The union is most hopeful that Obama will reinstate a Clinton-era executive order that established labor-management partnerships within the federal workforce. President Bush revoked the order in 2001. A December 2000 report by the Office of Personnel Management found the partnerships “helped cut costs, enhance productivity, and improve customer service at agencies across Government.”
"Increases in productivity are best achieved when managers and employees work in partnership and collaboration to achieve agency missions," NTEU's report states.
"Front-line employees have a really good idea of how to do the work of the federal government better," Kelley told The Eye in a previous interview. "Current employees and potential employees are looking for a way to put their ideas to work. There really has been a lack of that especially over the past eight years and in large part that happened because the current administration has never valued or respected federal workers or the jobs they do."
The union's calls for collective bargaining at TSA are backed by Obama, who wrote a series of letters to federal workers that, among other things, state his support for granting TSA workers the same bargaining rights and workplace protections as other federal workers.
"It is unacceptable for [Transportation Security Officers] to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections – this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs," Obama wrote in a letter addressing TSA concerns.
As for the IRS' private tax collection program, NTEU calls it "a financial failure and even the IRS acknowledges the work could be done more cost-effectively by IRS employees." The Post reported last April that "Since 2006, the agency has used three companies to go after a $1 billion slice of the nation's unpaid taxes. Despite aggressive collection tactics, the companies have rounded up only $49 million, little more than half of what it has cost the IRS to implement the program." There is Democratic support in Congress to end the programs and Obama expressed support for ending the program in his discussions with NTEU, Kelley said.
The 52-page list of recommendations also urges Obama to quickly fill a vacancy on the Federal Labor Relations Authority, urge passage of paid parental leave legislation and support the Whistleblower Protection Act.
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