Federal employee unions not picketing Capital or the White House

And most do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits, so why are they not out there surrounding the White House demanding them? I’ve been wondering about this for weeks, but since President Obama’s intention was to restore the collective bargaining rights, I guess that is what really matters.

In a letter referring to collective bargaining rights of federal employees sent to the president of the AFL-CIO during the campaign, Obama promised that he would …

[R]eview decisions by the Bush Administration that have denied these rights to federal employees and seek to restore them.

OK, so is he going to review the decision and then restore the rights, or is he going to review the decision and possibly agree with the Bush administration decision and leave things status quo?

See how the guy played both sides of the coin there? From politifact.com

We found three major Bush administration moves restricting the ability of federal employees to unionize: the 2004 birth of the National Security Personnel System, a new set of federal pay rules; a prohibition against collective bargaining for Transportation Security Administration workers; and an executive order from last November – after Obama had written the letter to Gage – that eliminated a union representing staffers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Bush administration’s creation of the National Security Personnel System created a new set of rules regarding promotions, pay raises and other issues for civilian Defense Department employees. Unions claimed this system imposed major restrictions on these workers’ collective bargaining rights, and pushed for it to be abolished. The fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill, which Obama signed in October, repeals it.

As for Bush’s executive order, it eliminated the collective bargaining rights for 1,500 ATF employees who have been unionized for decades. Obama could theoretically overturn it unilaterally with an executive order of his own, but we can’t find any record of him attempting to do so.

As a matter of fact, as of the end of 2010, only 26.8 percent of federal workers were in a union and 31.4 percent in total were represented by unions. So about seven of 10 federal employees do not have collective bargaining rights. Where are those 1,154,000 federal employees and why are they not knocking on the doors of the White House and trying to break through the bathroom windows?

If you look at the statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we find 31 percent of state workers and 42 percent of local workers are in a union. It’s nowhere near the majority. Another tidbit for the labor statistics released in January…

The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent).

And by the way, President Carter and Congress back in 1978 did not pass a law that effectively ended all collective bargaining for federal employees, and that’s not at all what Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.) suggested in his opinion piece earlier today in The Washington Post.

The left/progressive/statist spin I’m hearing is that conservative bloggers are saying no federal union employees have collective bargaining rights and that’s a total lie. We’re saying that most do not and President Obama has done nothing to bring back collective bargaining to employees who had them before.

The 1,500 BATF agents who had collective bargaining “rights” in 2008 lost them by a stroke of President Bush’s pen in 2008 specifically because they were involved in law enforcement and national security work.

In the Dec. 1 order, Bush listed 37 agencies or offices, including ATF that “have as a primary function intelligence, counterintelligence, investigative or national security work.” National security requirements mean employees at those agencies cannot have collective bargaining rights, Bush said.

Obama could have changed that with an Executive Order on day one. Why did he not do so? Why are we not seeing ATF agents slamming Obama?

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air who got me going on this one.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Don Lombardo on March 18, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Review, study, committee – they're all politician  buzz words that mean stalling and doing nothing. The basic "no balls" approach.

  2. WagTheDog on March 18, 2011 at 4:43 am

    I saw the NEA  president on Fox & Friends this morning (http://video.foxnews.com/#/v/4592978/nea-president-reacts-to-attack-ad/?playlist_id=86912 )

    Steve asks why in other countries where less money is spent on education, their students are out performing ours.  The guy replies with a nonsensical that the government and teacher unions work together.  It does seem that they are out for themselves, and not for the students.


    When I was in high school (class of '85) our teachers went on strike – sort of.  They still taught, but the union said not to do any of the extra stuff – like several of my teachers were coaches.  Both of my swim coaches went against the union and still coached the team.  Those guys were in it for the team, the kids, and two of the guys I respect the most from my high school career.

  3. sammy22 on March 18, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I'd still like to know why there is no picketing of the White House.

    • GdavidH on March 18, 2011 at 6:41 am

      In a way, Sammy, I agree. I would like to know what makes the federal employees different from the state (unionized) employees. Are they just more reasonable, or more afraid that Obama and Bush and now gov. Walker are correct?

       Why should an avowed democrat, community organizer, sitting in the most powerful seat in gov't get a pass on prohibiting the same thing the unions are screaming bloody murder about at the state level?


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