Milwaukee VA workers fight union busting
Milwaukee, WI – Fifty Veterans Affairs workers and supporters rallied outside the Zablocki VA hospital August 12 to protest union-busting, attacks on high-quality public veteran healthcare, and bad faith bargaining by the VA administration.
The rally was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3 and supported by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Veterans for Peace and elected leaders including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.
AFGE members and representatives detailed shocking accounts of the extreme measures that the VA administration is taking to strip union rights. VA negotiators are intentionally obstructing contract negotiations with the union, trying to force an impasse after only ten days of bargaining. VA negotiators proposed scrapping 63% of the current contract, which would effectively gut many basic union rights.
“We have to stand up and fight!” said AFGE district organizer Don Evans as he railed against the anti-union tactics of the VA and Trump administration. “You want to make America great? No more shutdowns, stop balancing the budget with our paychecks,” continued Evans, “You want to make America great? Restore the integrity of the VA hospital and bargain in good faith!”
Under the Trump administration, federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs have essentially declared war on federal government workers and their unions. VA employees who are active in their union, enforcing the contract and defending workplace rights, are being singled out and targeted for discipline and harassment by management. The assault on union rights at the VA is part of a much larger effort by the Trump administration and employer-funded groups to weaken unions and disenfranchise working class people generally.
Milwaukee VA workers say bargaining had been scheduled to continue until December, and they will not back down in the face of harassment and bad faith bargaining.