Taking Sides in Union Disputes: The President Fired Me
We recently received an email from David Osborne, the president of Americans for Fair Treatment, an organization that works to protect workers from abuses of power by their unions. The subject line was “The President Fired Me.” I thought it had to be a marketing gimmick until I read his note. With Osborne’s permission, here is an excerpt:
The Reuters headline says it best, “Biden guts federal bargaining impasse panel criticized by unions.”
Four years ago, President Trump appointed me to the Federal Services Impasse Panel in part because of my background litigating on behalf of public-sector employees. The appointment was an honor, and it was a privilege to responsibly resolve disputes between unions representing federal employees and the agencies employing them.
This week, I was asked to resign from my term ending 2025, and I refused. Then I got this email:
Over the last four years, I (and my fellow panel members) upheld the law and fairly adjudicated the issues brought before us. What we didn’t do, though, was routinely side with union officials, leading them to call us, for example, “a grotesque parade of horribles.” For that, several unions also sued us over the years, claiming we were unconstitutionally appointed. It’s no surprise that union officials are now cheering Biden’s move to replace the entire panel.
I don’t share this to fuel suspicions that Biden isn’t the unifier he said he’d be. I share it because it highlights the importance of the work we do at Americans for Fair Treatment.
No matter what administration is in power, we can help public-sector employees declare independence from their union officials. And many have taken a public stand—including filing federal lawsuits—in order to help others do the same.”
Whatever differences in points of view exist between the unions and their workers, referring to the panelists who committed their time to helping resolve their disputes as a “grotesque parade of horribles” is revealing. Name-calling in place of presenting facts and arguments indicates a culture that isn’t interested in finding solutions. Clearing out a whole panel so that it can be replaced by loyalists indicates the same thing.
These actions will impact many workplace issues, including those involving teachers’ unions. Our schools have enough problems functioning right now—we don’t need union issues added to those. It will be interesting to see what implications this news will have on the education system, among other areas.
Editor’s note: Debi Ghate serves on the board of directors of Americans for Fair Treatment