Washington D.C. – Federal employees from dozens of agencies banded together and turned their lunch hours into a high-powered rally Tuesday at the Capitol, calling for an end to the attacks on their rights and their unions.
NTEU National President Tony Reardon and local NTEU member and Health and Human Services employee Dannine Johnson were among the speakers at the noon rally that drew a large, diverse crowd of frontline workers and many supportive members of Congress.
“Today, we stand in defense of our collective bargaining rights,” Reardon said during the rally. “Today, we demand respect for our contracts.”
The rally was sponsored by NTEU, the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Federation of Federal Employees and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. Lawmakers who also spoke included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and many others.
Johnson, chief steward of NTEU Chapter 229 at HHS headquarters, said in her 14 years at the agency, she’s never seen employees and their unions targeted and harassed like they are now.
“Federal employees deserve to a have a voice. Our contract is our voice. And when it came time to bargain, HHS refused to be in the same room with us. They wouldn’t even look us in the eye,” Johnson said.
HHS violated the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute by bargaining in bad faith and imposing an unfair, one-sided and incomplete contract that employees never approved. NTEU has filed multiple grievances and called on agency leadership to return to the negotiating table and treat its own employees with respect.
Employees from agencies across government shared similar stories of management trying to gut contracts, eliminate employee benefits, restrict union activity, disrupt the workplace and chase valuable, dedicated civil servants from their jobs.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.