Letter to the Hon. Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs - Norcross, Brown Lead Bipartisan Letter Pushing Back Against Department Of Veterans Affairs' Union-Busting Efforts


By: Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, Mark Pocan, Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal, Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer, Jr., Donald McEachin, Elaine Luria, Sheila Jackson Lee, Steve Cohen, David Cicilline, Mike Doyle, Jr., Conor Lamb, Susan Wild, Madeleine Dean, Dwight Evans, Brendan Boyle, Brian Fitzpatrick, Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Anthony Gonzalez, Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge, Marcia Kaptur, Joe Morelle, Anthony Brindisi, Paul Tonko, Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, José Serrano, Adriano Espaillat, Max Rose, Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velázquez, Grace Meng, Kathleen Rice, Thomas Suozzi, Susie Lee, Dina Titus, Ben Lujan, Jr., Deb Haaland, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Albio Sires, Tom Malinowski, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jeff Van Drew, Ann Kuster, Chris Pappas, Bennie Thompson, Kilili Sablan, Collin Peterson, Ilhan Omar, Betty McCollum, Angie Craig, Brenda Lawrence, Rashida Tlaib, Dan Kildee, Chellie Pingree, Jamie Raskin, Elijah Cummings, David Trone, Anthony Brown, John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, Bill Keating, Stephen Lynch, Ayanna Pressley, Seth Moulton, Joe Kennedy III, Jim McGovern, Clay Higgins, John Yarmuth, Cheri Bustos, Brad Schneider, Jan Schakowsky, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Mike Quigley, Chuy Garcia, Dan Lipinski, Bobby Rush, Abby Finkenauer, David Scott, Hank Johnson, Jr., Sanford Bishop, Jr., Donna Shalala, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Sr., Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Jr., Darren Soto, Eleanor Norton, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Mike Levin, Alan Lowenthal, Nanette Barragán, Mark Takano, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Gil Cisneros, Linda Sánchez, Norma Torres, Ted Lieu, Tony Cárdenas, Julia Brownley, Katie Hill, T.J. Cox, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Eric Swalwell, Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Donald Young, Donald Norcross
Date: June 10, 2019
Location: Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Wilkie,

We are writing this letter regarding the collective bargaining rights of federal workers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. We are deeply concerned that the VA has pursued anti-labor policies with the union representing 260,000 of its frontline employees, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE).

We believe the VA may be acting to precipitate a breakdown in negotiations by insisting on proposals that are similar to specific provisions of Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839. Such proposals make it appear that the VA is seeking to circumvent the order of the United States District Court that enjoined many provisions of the Executive Orders.

Furthermore, beyond conflicts with the enjoined Executive Orders, we are alarmed that the VA's initial contract proposal is a gross departure from the current contract in place between the VA and AFGE. We are concerned that these actions will have a detrimental effect on veterans depending on the VA for medical care and other vital services.

Notably, the VA proposal includes limiting medical professionals in reporting violations that could threaten patient safety, bars employees from filing grievances against unjust disciplinary actions, and removes the ability of workers to challenge employer errors on payroll.

If the contract VA proposes was implemented, it would diminish labor protections and the collective bargaining rights that Congress intended, and would have a severe, destabilizing effect on agency operations, employee morale and the VA's ability to deliver high quality healthcare and benefits to America's Veterans.

As such, we strongly encourage the VA to bargain with AFGE in good faith, in full accordance with the established ground rules, and with the objective of improving care for our veterans. Unions representing VA workers help improve the care veterans receive and the services they rely on by creating an efficient working environment.

Thank you for your consideration.