Should Federal Union Have Sought Assistance of the UN in Labor Dispute? Readers Speak Out

By on December 5, 2006 in Current Events with 0 Comments

Should a union that represents federal employees go to the United Nations to seek a redress of its labor dispute with the federal government?

Curious about the reaction of readers to the decision by AFGE to ask the United Nations for assistance in its efforts to represent screeners in the Transporation Security Administration, we asked for the opinion and comments of readers. (See United Nations Enters Federal Employee Legal Dispute)

The article and survey generated a passionate response on both sides of the issue as you will see from a sample of the comments below.

A majority of readers do not agree with the union’s decision to go to the UN for support in resolving its dispute with Uncle Sam. The issue led to some readers proclaiming they were angry at the decision by the union to the extent that they would consider dropping their membership from the organization. Others felt that the decision was contrary to the interests of the United States and that an organization that represented employees working for the federal government displayed poor judgment in taking the dispute to the UN. Others believed that the UN is anti-American in its views and America does not need or want to have that organization making decisions for our country.

Other readers, however, say the union did the right thing and the decision to go the UN was justified in view of the decision by the government not to allow the union to represent some federal workers.

Here is a summary of the results:

Do you agree with AFGE’s decision to use the assistance of the United Nations in its attempt to represent federal employees?

yes: 28%
no: 69%
undecided: 3%

Does the decision by the United Nations in favor of AFGE create an embarrassment for the United States?

yes: 64%
no: 31%
undedecided: 6%

Are you in favor of allowing American citizens to seek redress from the United Nations in addition to using the American judicial process?

yes: 29%
no: 67%
undecided: 5%

Here is a sampling from the reader comments. First is a sampling of comments from readers who were opposed to the union seeking UN assistance.

A management analylst from Ramstein AFB wrote: " In my opinion, they didn’t embarass the US, they embarassed every civil service employee. The union, or at a minimum the leadership of the union, should be dumped and fired from their civilian job if they have one."

A program analyst from GSA in Washington, DC commented: "Too bad the AFGE is that money hungry – it appears to me all they care about are the dues they can bring in and not the workers."

A labor relations specialist from DHS in Dallas had this opinion: " It is AFGE that should be embarassed about obtaining a purely symbolic ruling that is totally irrelevant. They are misleading their constituent union members and attmepting to say ‘look what we have done for you’ when in fact they have done nothing more than waste the dues money the members have paid in good faith."

An acquisiton specialist from the Defense Supply Center in Richmond has a strong opinion: "Not only ‘NO’ but ‘HELL NO’. Are you kidding? The United States is a sovereign country and it takes care of making it’s own rules and regulations! Duh!?! This "world" involvement and "world opinion" on what the United States does and doesn’t do has got to stop. What the United States should be concerned with is doing the "right thing" not doing what the United Nations think is the right thing for the United States to do."

A telecommunications specialist with DISA in Falls Church, VA has a negative view of the UN: "I characterize the U.N. as a bloated, functionally anti-American organization that does have the general interest of our country at heart. Why should I want them to get involved with our government workers?"

An aviation safety inspector from the FAA in Des Moines, IA says: "Unions and the political left are quick to start demanding their Constitutional rights. But let the UN into domestic affairs and see how fast all of our rights will disappear."

An electronics technician from the USDA in Madison, WI is unhappy with events: "It’s a sad day for labor and America when Union leaders go crying to the UN for help. I am embarrassed by this action and if I was represented by AFGE I sure as heck wouldn’t be paying any more dues."

An area liaison with GSA in Auburn, WA writes: "It appears AFGE was shopping for a decision in their favor. For them to take a matter decided by US law to an organization made up of countries not in tune with the American legal system is an embarassment to the United States as well as the members of the AFGE."

A consultant with HHS is Kansas City, MO has strong views: "One anti-American group getting support from another. Osama Bin Laden could probably be elected to a union leadership position by this bunch of buffoons."

A logistics management specialist from the Army in McAlester, OK opined: "Any American that has to go to the United Nations to settle a dispute should just leave our great country and go live somewhere else. It isn’t the UN that fights for the freedom and rights our US Constitution provide us but it is the American soldier that ensures each citizen of the US has the right to pursue their dreams and happiness. I don’t see anything about the UN in our Constitution, nor have I seen the UN fight for our freedoms. Since when do we want foreign countries telling us what to do?"

A retiree from the Bureau of Prison in Johnstown, PA see the action as misguided: "The UN is very Anti-American. AFGE did not do itself any favors by going to the UN. AFGE represents American Goverment employees, not UN employees it should deal only with the U.S. Goverment and this going to the UN will have a very negtive impact on the union."

A retired federal employee in Carrollton,GA is not happy with the decison: "I think it is a disgrace and anti-American! And I have been a member of AFGE for over 30 years. I may not be a member much longer."

A data analyst with the Department of Education in Washington, DC describes himself as a member of the union and says: "Absolutely no way should this be allowed nor authorized in any form, manner, forum, and/or proceeding in the United States of America as the action the Union has taken in this matter has set an extremely bad example and precedent that has the potential to destroy the United States of America. Congress should immediately outlaw and put an end to this right now for the action the Union has taken has the potential to end our freedoms and destroy the United States of America if this were to become precedence, which it will if it is not immediately stopped."

As always, there is not universal agreement on the issue. A number of readers supported the union’s action. Here is a sampling of their comments.

The president of AFGE Local 12 at OPM in Washington, DC writes: "I agree that the use of this method is warranted to obtain a fair hearing on the facts. Most governmental venues that hears these type issues rubber stamp the administration actions towards unions."

An AFGE member from DoD in San Antonio, TX has this view: "In today’s "dog-world" one has too utilize all resources to survive!"

A claims authorizer from the SSA in Jamaica, NY supports the action: "Of course, federal employees should be able to use international organizations to highlight their plight especially when dealing with an Administration like the current one. The Bush Administration not only treats its employees like second class citizens but it treats the constitutional rights of all citizens in the same fashion."

A mechanic from DoD in Barstow, CA thinks the action was justified: "When the federal government is blatently anti labor the labor movement MUST do what it can to bring the labor issues to light."

An investigator from the Department of Labor also has strong feelings on the issue: "If the UN is so bad then why are we part of it and allow it to be built on Amercian soil. Is the UN only good when a President named Bush wants to go to war?"

An EEO specialist from the Dept. of Labor has this view: "American corporations, including federal government contractors that are trying to take jobs away from federal employees through competitive sourcing, are involved in the global market, so why should’nt labor also go global and appeal to courts that function beyond traditional national boundaries."

An auditor from the Army in Norfolk, VA supports the union’s decision: "When an administration denies rights to some of it’s citizens, a higher authority is necessary to correct a wrong. This administration has been taking away the rights of the federal employees and it is good to know that someone has found a way of calling them to task."

And the General Counsel for AFGE wrote: "I find it interesting that the editorial across the country which was critical of AFGE was a "canned" editorial, dupilcated word-for word in right wing papers. If anyone should be embarassed it is the anti-union Bushees who have used the tragedy of 9/11 to forward their anti-union agenda. It is absolutely dishonorable to use the deaths of the 300 + union members- firefighters and police -who ran into the burning buildings-KNOWING they would probably die- to argue that collective bargaining is inconsistent with national security. It was not the case in WW II, Korea, etc. Most of AFGE’s DHS and DOD and VA members are vets! Everyone else at the airports from customs, immigration enforcement, police, machinists, pilots, , etc. can organize and many have private sector labor law rights, including the right to strike. Denying baggage inspectors the right to organize is agenda driven, unjustified, and downright UnAmerican. Too bad the UN had to remind us of that!"

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