Kuster, Tonko, Pallone lead 220+ Members Calling on EPA to Negotiate in Good Faith
WASHINGTON—U.S. Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), and Energy & Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) led a bipartisan group of 228 total Members of Congress calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to negotiate in good faith with union representatives at the EPA during the ongoing labor dispute. The members’ letter raises particular concerns about reports of unfair labor practices and other troubling efforts to undermine career civil servants and union representatives taking place at the agency.
“We are concerned about potential unfair labor practices and refusal to bargain in good faith with union representatives at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” the authors write. “We strongly urge EPA’s management to return to the bargaining table with union representatives and negotiate in good faith. In addition, we request timely and continuous updates regarding ongoing negotiations.”
AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley added, "What is happening at the EPA is part of a larger mission by the Trump administration to decimate federal employee unions and leave employees with no voice to challenge mismanagement, workplace retaliation, and other abuses. We thank all the members of Congress in both the House and Senate who are calling on EPA to return to the table and negotiate with the union in good faith over a contract that will allow EPA employees to continue doing their jobs on behalf of the American people."
In June 2019, EPA imposed a unilateral, anti-worker management directive in place of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement. The directive violates the rights and protections that Congress specifically guaranteed to public-sector employees. EPA refusing to bargain in good faith with the union jeopardizes the agency’s mission, public health, and the environment, consistent with a pattern of similar behavior at other agencies intended to undercut workers.
This directive impacts more than 14,000 EPA employees, some of whom handle mission-critical cases, including emergency and long-term hazardous waste cleanup, prosecution of environmental crimes, enforcement of clean air and clean water laws, and cleanup of oil spills and toxic substances. This directive endangers that agency’s mission “to protect human health and environment” and every dedicated EPA employee’s voice on the job.
Dear Administrator Wheeler:
We are concerned about potential unfair labor practices and refusal to bargain in good faith with union representatives at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We understand that you have undertaken efforts to negotiate with union representatives; however, more must be done. The negotiations seem to have broken down when EPA adopted proposals that are similar to certain provisions of Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839.
It is our understanding that in June 2019, EPA unilaterally imposed a new contract on its employees. This imposed contract:
- eliminates the grievance procedure, stripping workers of important due process and depriving employees of a way to hold managers accountable;
- removes union members from their voluntary union membership without their consent;
- evicts union representatives from office space and severely restricts the amount of time they can devote to meetings with employees and management to eliminate problems or obstacles in the workplace; and
- reduces workplace schedules and telework options, and makes other work schedule changes, hurting EPA employees who commute long distances because they cannot afford to live close to their offices.
We strongly urge EPA’s management to return to the bargaining table with union representatives and negotiate in good faith. In addition, we request timely and continuous updates regarding ongoing negotiations.
Thank you for your consideration.