The longtime anti-tax activist and popular Trump supporter Grover Norquist as soon as said: “I don’t want to eliminate federal government. I just want to lower it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” You don’t have to listen difficult to hear the water running.
As the federal government shutdown gets in its second month, we are experiencing an unprecedented effort by the administration to starve out federal workers, decimate the firms we make up, and undermine the extremely foundation of the civil service. Unmatched – but not unanticipated.
From Trump’s project pledge to eliminate the Ecological Protection Firm, to his budget plan in 2017 proposing the elimination of 19 federal agencies ranging from the Chemical Safety Board to the National Endowment for the Arts, the president has actually been gunning for the federal sector for years. He carried out a federal hiring freeze in the very first days of his term. Following that with a $1.5 tn tax cut, Trump and congressional Republicans set the stage for budget deficiencies – and their attendant cuts to services – for years to come.
The president was less reliable in his 2nd year. Last summer, he intended to gut what’s left of federal labor protections with 3 executive orders that were later on mostly struck down by the courts. These orders were paired with a proposition to remove or hollow out numerous firms, constant with the vision of the small-government fundamentalists that surround Trump. However, like the executive orders, Trump’s proposal remains only a proposition, without legislative assistance.
Trump appears to see the shutdown as his chance to press on, exterior of pesky legal restrictions, to win the political fight versus “big government”. Last week, the Daily Caller ran a piece from an confidential “senior authorities in the Trump administration” that called on the president to continue the shutdown for “a extremely long time” in order to slash the federal workforce by “smoking out the resistance”. A long shutdown, the official argued, could demonstrate “that federal government is better when smaller”.
Lest anybody get the impression that this “senior official” couldn’t get a hearing for this method with their manager, Trump shared the editorial with his 57 million Twitter fans.
Many federal employees are still in denial. Sure, we’re upset – especially those of us not getting paid. However there’s little sense that there’s anything we can do. In today’s political context, calling our congressional representatives is comprehended to be even less reliable than it’s ever been. The uncomfortable and demoralizing truth for us federal employees is that we’ve never had excellent friends in Congress, no matter how lots of times we’ve called.
Since the 1970 s, the erosion of the public sector has actually been overseen by both celebrations (one, undeniably, more enthusiastic than the other). And even during the previous decades, when the federal sector was broadening, political leaders of both celebrations were careful to sculpt out and maintain exceptions to the rights of public workers. To this day, it is not just prohibited for federal employees to strike, but, according to the same statute, it is illegal for us to even assert the right to strike. The dubious constitutionality of such a clause aside, it has had its intended impact. Our mere discussion of a federal strike – to state nothing of others’ explicit recommendation of such an action – obliges us to author opinions anonymously.
Leaving aside the strike concern, one must understand that federal workers are bullied even when it comes to the most elementary political activity. Think about the Hatch Act, which restricts lobbying or partisan electoral activity on the clock. The act’s reasonable constraints are developed to guard versus graft, however are being weaponized by agency bosses versus any political speech. Think about last week’s internal email to FAA workers, which conflates at-work partisan activity with “remarks made in any forum”.
Under such a vindictive administration as this one, we expect such memos of intimidation to ended up being commonplace anytime our collective indignation begins to exceed our worries. This tactic by management of overstating the limitations of the Hatch Act works in a particularly insidious way. A stunning number of federal workers believe that standard constitutional securities do not use to themselves.
So those calling for a TSA strike or French-style mass pickets will forgive us for treading lightly while some of our colleagues believe their tasks to be at risk for far less. But the authors’ points are well-taken. The fact is that without a pushback from arranged labor, more and more of the civil service continues to face ever much deeper cuts. The question we ought to be asking is not whether federal employees will, can or must strike. There’s a various question, more instantly pertinent to all of arranged labor.
How can federal workers and the tasks that we do – from protecting health and the environment to gathering taxes to preserving public infrastructure and security – ended up being main commitments of our society again? How can the more comprehensive labor motion start to see the modest very first steps of rank and file federal employees as the necessary next actions towards defending the public sector from the privatizers and the deregulators?
Tuesday night, at a church kitchen area in Montclair, New Jersey, federal employees and their families collected for a complimentary dinner and groceries donated by regional services and fans. This Friday, in lower Manhattan, a little union local that represents federal workers who are not furloughed will be hosting a comparable event for the benefit of those who are.
Small, morale-boosting occasions like these may not increase to the level essential to force an end to the shutdown. Nevertheless, they show a craving for the kind of uniformity that may begin to pointer the balance in our favor. So arranged labor could support such efforts where they emerge, or help get them going in areas with concentrations of federal staff.
Such solidarity, of course, should be a two-way street and federal employees can do our part by, for example, refusing to scab on striking instructors such as Denver public schools have asked local feds to do. In truth, we have a lot to discover from such teachers and, like the rest of the country, we are taking notes.
But more than anything else, federal employees requirement uniformity from the broader labor motion: actual material assistance while we are locked out or forced to work without pay can help bring us to our feet. We requirement all unions to protect the role of the public sector and the stability of civil service versus little government enthusiasts. And we requirement political repression and intimidation in federal companies to be comprehended as a risk to all of labor.
If you desire to see federal workers run, you can offer a hand, help get us on to our feet and walk with us.