Senators Support Collective Bargaining for Federal Employees

Press Release November 21, 2019

Washington D.C. – More than 40 U.S. senators are calling on Congress to provide additional protection for federal employees to bargain collectively, a welcome development for frontline workers who deserve a meaningful voice in their workplaces.

“Robust labor unions are a hallmark of competitive workplaces – they lead the fight for better benefits, protections, and working conditions,” the senators wrote in a new letter to Senate leadership. “The Trump Administration’s anti-union agenda undermines the government’s ability to attract talented workers and demoralizes workers currently in public service.” 

The letter, led by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and signed by 43 of his colleagues, specifically asks Congress to bar federal agencies from implementing any labor contract that has not been agreed upon by all parties or ordered by a mediator. The provision was already approved by the House in its appropriations package earlier this year.

“Without this provision, unions will be locked into unreasonable and unfair contracts for the foreseeable future,” the letter states.

If approved, agencies like Health and Human Services would not be able to enforce contract articles that NTEU never agreed to.

“It’s unfortunate this is even necessary, but as we’ve seen these last two years, some agency leaders are determined to circumvent the law and undercut legitimate, good-faith collective bargaining with their own employees,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “NTEU applauds Sen. Peters and other co-signers of today’s letter for strongly reinforcing the Civil Service Reform Act, which says collective bargaining in the federal sector is in the public interest.”

The senators’ letter is also a powerful statement about the role of labor unions in the U.S.

“At a time when the right to unionize in both the public and private sectors is increasingly under attack, we must affirm our support for workers and labor rights,” it states.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.