Press Release: VA Hospital Workers Respond to News After a Federal Court Strikes Down President Trump’s Executive Orders Aimed Against Federal Unions

Hines VA Stewards Say the Ability to Use “Official Time” Is an Essential Tool to Enforce Union Contracts, Resolve Grievances, and Hold Management Accountable

IMG_3586For Immediate Release

Contact: scott.vogel@seiuhcil.org

(August 25th, 2018, Chicago) – A federal district judge from D.C. ruled against President Trump’s executive orders aimed at federal unions and essentially called the President’s actions illegal and reversed the administration’s anti-union policies.  The Trump administration sought to stop federal unions from using “official time” for stewards to resolve grievances and enforce contracts while working on the clock, as well as making it easier to fire federal workers.

Union stewards at the VA and members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana responded to today’s news.

Jeanne Harris, a 15-year steward at Hines VA and healthcare tech in the nursing department stated:

Jeanne Harris, nursing dept at Hines VA speaks at our rally against the Trump administration's executive orders aimed to curtail federal unions, and limiting "official time" by stewards to enforce contracts and hold management accountable; Aug. 21, 2018

Jeanne Harris, nursing dept at Hines VA speaks at our rally against the Trump administration’s executive orders aimed to curtail federal unions, and limiting “official time” by stewards to enforce contracts and hold management accountable; Aug. 21, 2018

“The Court rightfully sided with federal workers that union contracts simply can’t be wiped away with the stroke of a pen or on the whim of any President. Using official time is how we improve patient care within the VA.  Our frontline hospital workers need to know that if and when we see issues within the VA that need to be addressed, or witness poor management, that workers won’t be retaliated against if we report a concern,” said Harris.

HinesVAPresser03_size_reduced_580WMelody Young, an LPN as Hines VA echoed that sentiment. “Government agencies, especially the VA, need strong and effective unions. Addressing issues with management, improving processes and demanding accountability shouldn’t be a ‘volunteer activity’ after work hours.”

The VA has a $200 billion budget that cares for over 9 million veterans and is tasked with running 170 medical centers and 1,061 outpatient clinics. This is all the more reason why stewards must be able to address issues within the sprawling bureaucracy.

NormaRae12Jeanne Harris added that, “Unions are advocates for patients, families, and co-workers. These ongoing attacks against our fellow federal workers are self-defeating and must stop from the Trump administration. That’s why we rallied outside Hines VA to stand up for our rights and why I’m calling upon all my fellow VA hospital workers to join our union to strengthen our voices and demonstrate our true power.”

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