White House and unions have no relationship, say leaders

The Trump administration did a poor job keeping federal employee unions appraised of what was happening during the shutdown, keeping with a trend of poor communication between the two groups, according to American Federation of Government Employees leadership.

“During other government shutdowns, and I’ve been through when President Obama was president and the government shut down, there was daily calls, sometimes several times a day, with OMB and OPM, with all of the unions representing federal workers,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. at a Feb. 11 press roundtable.

“This administration chose to communicate absolutely nothing. Thank God, thank God for [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer who called AFGE every day, communicating with us every day.”

According to Cox, they would occasionally get reminders about not using government email or other such small tidbits of information, but official briefings were lacking.

The Trump administration has long had a rocky relationship with federal employee unions, which came to a head when President Donald Trump signed executive orders limiting official time and calling for the renegotiation of agency-union agreements.

According to Cox, that relationship with the administration is practically nonexistent.

“It doesn’t exist. It does not exist in this administration. This administration seems to want to shut down OPM and kind of collapse everything into OMB. There is just not a relationship. They’re only doing those things absolutely required by law,” said Cox.

“We’ve reached out to them, I’ve sent letters asking for meetings, requesting meetings on a regular basis. I think other unions have done the same thing. They’re just not responding.”

Should Congress and Trump fail to pass and sign funding legislation by midnight on Friday, significant portions of the federal government will go into shutdown again.

If that happens, Cox said, AFGE would have employees protesting at the offices of all 47 senators that did not vote to reopen government.

“If there is another government shutdown, the president and Congress are going to have a tough road ahead of them, particularly those that are not voting to reopen the government,” said Cox, adding that they would also be pressing responsible government officials for a solution.

“We know where Mick Mulvaney lives. And we know what time he goes to work, and we’ll be right there if he comes out of his house chasing him all the way to work.”

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