By Sahid Fawaz
Accusations are mounting against Betsy Devos and the current administration for their hostility against a union and its members.
“Rank-and-file Education Department employees have gone to battle with Secretary Betsy DeVos, accusing department management of gutting a long-standing labor agreement and enforcing a new pact that has been roundly rejected by their union.
Officials with the American Federation of Government Employees Council 252 said the department is flouting labor law and protocols, walking away from negotiations on a new contract last year before ground rules could even be set.
The administration then wrote in provisions to the old contract that impede the work of union officials within government offices and make it difficult for people to sign up for the union.
Earlier this month, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, saying the Education Department failed to negotiate in good faith.
The Trump administration has sought to slash costs at the department, last year offering buyouts to hundreds of employees. The administration sought to cut $9.8 billion from the agency in its budget proposal for the current fiscal year, but the cuts were overwhelmingly rejected by Congress.
Elizabeth Hill, spokeswoman for DeVos, blamed the impasse on the union.
‘The union spent more than a year dragging its feet on ground rules [for] negotiations without reaching any agreement, and then failed to respond in [a] timely manner to negotiate over the contract proposed by the department,’ Hill wrote in an email Wednesday. ‘This contract complies with all statutory requirements and maintains union members’ rights under the Civil Service Protections Act and the Federal Labor Relations Act.’
This is not the first time DeVos has found herself at odds with a public sector union. She has called teacher unions ‘defenders of the status quo’ and apologists for a public education system she views as broken and unimaginative. Teacher unions have loudly protested her push for expanding school choice and private school vouchers, which allow public funds to flow to private and charter schools.”
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