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DeMint: Strip feds’ collective bargaining

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Sen. Jim DeMint (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The collective bargaining battles that began in Wisconsin may be about to come to federal employees’ doorstep. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told the blog ThinkProgress this weekend that he doesn’t think federal employees should have any collective bargaining rights.

Here’s the exchange between ThinkProgress reporter Scott Keyes and DeMint at the Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, Iowa:

KEYES: Senator, would you like to see some of these bills that we see at a state level curbing the collective bargaining rights of public employees’ unions, would you like to see those on a federal level?

DeMINT: I don’t believe collective bargaining has any place in government.

KEYES: Including at a federal level?

DeMINT: Including at the federal level. That’s what elections are, collective bargaining, for people who are [inaudible]. I think it just doesn’t make sense. When we’re elected as representatives, to determine the fiscal condition of the government, then to have an unelected third party bargaining at the table with monopoly power, it just doesn’t make any sense.

Keyes correctly notes that most federal employees, except for those at the U.S. Postal Service and a few others, cannot collectively bargain over pay and benefits — just working conditions. DeMint and many other Senate Republicans last month unsuccessfully tried to scuttle plans to extend limited collective bargaining rights to Transportation Security Administration employees on security grounds.

DeMint earlier this year also proposed a five-year pay freeze for federal employees.

Video after the break.

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  1. Will Reiner Says:
    March 28th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Political posturing — nothing but theatre. Federal Unions are utterly toothless as it is. They have NO collective bargaining rights to speak of. They can engage in discussions about working conditions, but that’s it. Wages, benefits, etc., are all determined by law. DeMint is pandering to the backwater fools who voted for him and to the great constituency of ignorant wingnuts who support his political ideology (such that it is). You’ll not he’s not attacking Senatorial perks, salaries or benefits.

  2. Meghan Says:
    March 28th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I have a love/hate view of the unions. As much as I hate seeing a poor employee get backed by their union, I value the consistency they bring to our work environments. Without the union, we’d be tugged back and forth as administrations change. This consistency that the unions bring in the Federal government benefit our customers just as much as they benefit us.

    Like Will said, it’s not like the unions have the power to change our pay. They can’t even strike. What’s the harm, really?

  3. chrisk Says:
    March 29th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    You may be a Federal Employee by election, but most of us had to take and pass tests in order to hired, we didn’t get our jobs based on campaign promises and popularity. Our unions help to ensure that we get a decent wage and are not discriminated against.

    I do have issue with unions that seek only to get 3 to 5 % raises every year and have their members not pay any of their health insurance. As a member of the APWU we get perhaps 1% increase each year and pay toward our insurance. As a single person my insurance costs are almost $33 each pay period. Many state and federal employees look for large increases every year and no out of pocket expenses in the health care arena. We all need to pay our fair share, but be given the means to do so.

    I suggest people read the contract the members of the APWU will be voting on and take note that we are willing to defer increases and possible COLA’s for a period of time. Not all unions are money grubbing organizations.

  4. What! Says:
    March 29th, 2011 at 8:51 am

    To Chrisk

    I am a federal employee and have been for over 25 years. Where did you get your info on what we have to do to get there, what we pay for health care and what pay increases we get?

    As a Federal Employee I had to take a test to get on the Civil Service list. Also, depending on what job you do for the Federal Government you have to have a degree.

    Federal Employees are at the whim of Congress as to how much of a pay raise we get. We can not bargain it. I remember several years that with the raising cost of health care, taxes, etc. that I ended up making less money or only a few dollars more the next year on my paycheck.

    Also, I pay $196 each pay period for my health insurance (family policy) and I have a $500 deductible per person. I believe that a single person under my same plan pays about $100 per pay period but has the same deductible. This cannot be bargained. If we want dental or eye insurance we pay for it fully.

    I know Congress doesn’t have to pass a test; has the greatest health care plan and doesn’t pay a penny for it; and they can vote their own pay raises so maybe you have Federal Employees mixed up with Congress.

    All those reports of Federal Employees making over $100,000 is bull. Most of us make enough to cover our bills.

  5. Sage Says:
    March 29th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    This is pure saber rattling! Federal unions are not necessary for the protection of employee benefits (in my opinion) but they are required under federal statute. The chances that congress will repeal that statute are about as great as the sudden appearance of a tropical jungle in the middle of the Sahara desert. Federal unions can only bargaing working conditions ie. color of overalls furnished to employees, color of paint during office remodeling, who gets the window in an office when employee moves take place, parking spots, etc. Real earthshattering stuff like that. Wages and benefits are established by congress. Federal unions do however create a tremendous drain on resources (paid by taxpayers) with all the litigation they create over the bargaining of those significant working condition issues. Again (in my opinion) Federal unions are superfluous.

  6. Anthony Foster Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I could sit down and draw you a road map to fixing the loopholes that the people I live around are using to screw the IRS, USDA, HUD, and other social programs out of billions, upon billions of dollars. I think it is chicken crap when a government official begins canobolizing their own people, their own department to “save the masses.” If you want effective change, make these massive systems less vunerable to fraudulent activity. Link the systems together, to show that Jim blow who is claiming three children on federal and state income tax and has a fifty thousand dollar a year job isn’t claiming the same three children that mary somethinganother is using for her food stamp application and hud housing application claming that she is the primary caregiver. The gap between these two programs creates a funnell that puts money in the hands of the morally lacking.

  7. At Last Says:
    March 31st, 2011 at 12:04 am

    For some reason, I am always amazed with the information this union sends out that it’s material perceives to know it’s members political beliefs…

  8. Trelayne Says:
    April 22nd, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Well, gee! Where is the EEOC in all of this? The new Chair, Jacqueline Berrien, appointed in April 2010, confirmed in Dec. 2010 has not been heard to allow the words “Federal Sector” to pass her lips and treats the federal sector employees as the ugly red haired one-legged step child, despite the fact that the EEOC was commissioned to defend BOTH private sector employees AND public sector employees from discrimination.