WASHINGTON – Today, the American Federation of Government Employees, in conjunction with its National Veterans Affairs Council, announces the launch of a national campaign to hold the Trump administration accountable for its plot to gut the union contract covering 260,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs and make it harder for front-line workers to give veterans the care they deserve.
AFGE and the VA began negotiations May 27 on a new contract to cover 260,000 bargaining unit employees represented by the union. On May 2, the VA submitted to AFGE’s National VA Council a 331-page proposal that overhauls the existing contract and eliminates entirely or effectively 42 articles that help guarantee a fair workplace and high-quality care for veterans across the country.
AFGE President: “Our veterans can’t and won’t be political footballs.”
In short, the Trump administration’s scheme guts worker protections while advancing President Trump’s objective to privatize and outsource veterans’ care and redirect billions of dollars from serving veterans at the VA to instead, give vouchers to veterans for substandard care. The Trump plan eliminates safeguards that ensure whistleblowers are protected from retaliation for standing up for veterans, that guarantee VA employees are adequately trained so veterans always receive the same high standard of care, and that protect workplace safety for VA workers and veterans alike.
“This latest Trump administration plot not only strips VA workers – about one-third of whom are veterans themselves – of their rights, it also threatens quality care for veterans, and paves the way for a scheme to outsource veterans’ health care that no one wants,” said Alma Lee, president of AFGE’s National Veterans Council. “This administration’s proposal sets up VA employees to fail and will likely lead to worse care for our veterans.”
VA workers across the country will be making their voices heard (https://www.afge.org/take-action/campaigns/dignity-fairness-respect/va-day-of-action/) this week at nearly 60 rallies, employee town halls, congressional visits, and related events.
The Trump administration’s anti-veteran proposal:
- Jeopardizes the specialized care veterans receive from VA workers who are uniquely qualified to offer that care by opening the door to wholesale privatization of the VA.
- Imperils future discoveries and medical advancements, which benefit all Americans. VA employees have pioneered groundbreaking treatments for traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress, and other ailments that are far more common among veterans than the general population.
- Fails to address the more than 50,000 still-vacant positions that the VA has refused to fill – the majority of which are doctors, nurses, and other health care positions that are critical to care for our nation’s veterans.
“This is not the Trump administration’s first attempt to gut workers’ rights for President Trump’s own political gain. Many of the VA’s proposals are lookalike anti-labor policies President Trump tried and failed to implement governmentwide last year,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that the Trump administration does not dismantle health care for our nation’s veterans. Our veterans can’t and won’t be political footballs.”
For more information, visit www.afge.org/VAcontract.