AFGE Local 704 Statement on EPA’s July 8, 2019 “contract”

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AFGE Local 704

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BlogAFGE, Contract, Telework, Union Busting

Chicago EPA workers, under attack, demand end to Trump union busting tactics

Rep. Davis, Rep. Schakowsky, labor leaders, environmental advocates stand with EPA employees

As the Trump administration announced it was unilaterally imposing a draconian new contract on the union representing EPA employees in the Midwest, the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, spoke out on Monday. Standing in a press conference at Federal Plaza in Chicago along with Rep. Danny K. Davis, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, other local labor union leaders and environmental advocacy groups, the union demanded an end to the Trump administration’s union busting tactics that aim to undermine the union and the EPA employees’ ability to effectively do their jobs.

“Today, President Trump has issued a new ‘management directive’ unilaterally to drastically slash workplace rights and alter EPA staff’s daily lives and schedules,” said AFGE Local 704 President Nicole Cantello. “His approach is cowardly, illegal, and harmful to public health.”

AFGE Local 704 pledged to fight the contract in court. The union has already filed an unfair labor practice with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and a grievance of the parties under the previous contract, which will be decided by an arbitrator appointed by the Federal Conciliation and Mediation Service.

Rep. Davis said President Trump has “waged a war against organized labor.”

“He has waged a war against environmental protection. He has attempted, and is continuing, to roll back the progress we have made through years and years of struggle,” said Rep. Davis.

Rep. Schakowsky called the move “an attack on science.”

“This president has never believed in science. When you go after the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has from day one, you are challenging science at a moment when we know that it is an existential threat from global warming that we need to address,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “We have had a middle class in the United States of America because of organized labor. They brought to us a middle class, and we will not see a rejuvenation of the middle class in the United States unless we honor working people and the contracts that they sign.”

“Today, the Trump administration has reached a new low in their efforts to undermine the dedicated professionals who carry out vital, day-to-day operations of government. The Illinois Environmental Council stands with EPA staff who go to work each day to ensure safe drinking water, protect clean air and clean up toxic sites. We see this illegal management directive for exactly what it is – another systemic attack on our environment, open lands and public health,” said Colleen Smith, legislative director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “The Trump administration has proven time and again that they are desperate to carry out a pro-pollution agenda that pays favors to Donald Trump’s political allies at all costs, even when our air, water and way of life are in the balance. By making the work of federal EPA employees more difficult, the Trump administration can further obstruct environmental protection and enforcement, paving the way for even more greedy polluting projects at a time when we absolutely must be investing in clean energy.”

“The work these AFGE members do each and every day touches all our lives. This attack by the Trump Administration on civil servants and unions is destroying the livelihood of the people who protect our air, water and soil,” said Don Villar, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “Without rights from a bargained contract, without AFGE Local 704, EPA scientists and field agents have limited recourse or resource to defend against an increasingly coercive and intimidating anti-worker administration. For the safety of our environment and the people it supports, the Trump Administration must drop their anti-worker attacks and bargain in good faith with the hardworking men and women of AFGE and the EPA.”

“The Trump administration has declared war on the people who protect our environment. The administration has also declared a war on workers, and we won’t stand for it,” said Dorothy James, National Vice President of AFGE District 7, which represents federal employees in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. “We say no to illegal edicts, and yes to collective bargaining agreements.”