By John J. O’Grady, President, Local 704, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE Local 704), Chicago, Illinois
I’ve worked in both the private and public sectors, but always in environmentally oriented businesses or concerns. In the final analysis, the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – to protect human health and the environment – meant more to me than making lots of money, and having a life outside of work was and remains compelling. Besides, to the best of my knowledge, there have been no major studies that have stated that employees are happier when they work 60 plus hour weeks, have no personal life and risk losing their families so they can have a high-powered career and make lots of money. “Gee, I wish I spent more time at work than with my family” said no one ever on their death bed.
Having a strong, well-staffed, and sufficiently budgeted U.S. EPA used to mean something to a lot of ordinary American people. It took a while for us “commoners” (read taxpayers and voters) to awaken; e.g., the Cuyahoga River in northeast Ohio had to catch on fire at least 13 times before it captured the attention of most Americans. Eventually, as a result of a number of environmental disasters and certain champions of the common folk like Rachel Carson, the U.S. EPA was born on December 2, 1970. Up until recently, it was one of the finest environmental protection agencies in the world, but thanks to many elected leaders in Washington, war has been declared war on the U.S. EPA, oftentimes referring to it as the “Job Killing Agency,” for which there is no financial or statistical basis. Yet, somehow bashing the U.S. EPA became the battle cry of the elected misinformed and now has been expanded to include all of government by attacking America’s Federal employees. Continue reading “That Good Ol’ Spartan Government!”