Billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has never taught in, administered, attended, or sent her kids to public schools. And yet, despite her inexperience, she has attacked the nation’s public schools, the teachers—and now, the career employees at her own department.
- My Way or the Highway. Public school parents and teachers shouldn’t be surprised by the contempt that DeVos’ management team has shown almost 4,000 federal employees working for the Education Department across the country. The department was supposed to renegotiate an agreement with the employees’ union—the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council 252. But management sidestepped the union’s request to meet in person and recently declared that it would not negotiate but would instead simply impose its own terms.
- Imposing an ‘Agreement.’ Management called its new 40-page rulebook a “collective bargaining agreement” and even put AFGE’s logo on the cover without its consent. But the employees never agreed to the so-called contract’s removal of their rights on workplace health and safety, telecommuting, and family-friendly work schedules. That’s why the union declared that this misnamed “collective bargaining agreement” isn’t collective, didn’t result from bargaining, and isn’t an agreement.
Subverting the Law. By imposing an agreement, DeVos’ management team subverted the process that Congress established by law 40 years ago and that has been followed by Democratic and Republican administrations. While the union is legally required to represent all employees, whether or not they pay dues, the Education Department has taken away the union’s office space and equipment. And the union’s local leaders have been locked out of the information system and are unable to access files and documents.