AFGE Local President Asked to Quit Union or Leave FEMA
The Bush Administration’s long-standing effort to politicize and de-unionize government employees has taken some strange turns in the past, and it just took another one. An AFGE leader, president of Local 4060 in Washington, is accusing FEMA of intimidation.
Leo Bosner, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 4060, is an emergency-management program analyst at FEMA and has worked at the agency since its creation in 1979.
In his complaint, Bosner wrote that a FEMA security officer told him that “because I have a security clearance I must resign from the union, and I can be fired if I refuse to do so.”
In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, Bosner and other AFGE leaders spoke out on what they saw as weak management practices and inadequate staffing for disaster response. Bosner has faulted the leadership of Homeland Security’s political appointees and has spoken out in favor of removing FEMA from the department and restoring its status as an independent agency.
“I believe I am being singled out for my disclosures to Congress and to the news media,” Bosner said in his complaint. He said he thought FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison was behind the effort to make him choose between his job and his union membership.
The sudden conflict between his job and his position in the union may well be, as Bosner believes, payback for his criticism of FEMA. Michael Chertoff and Karl Rove have both, after all, been fond of revenge plots aimed at people who disagree with them. But there’s another possibility as well, and it’s hinted at in what Bosner was told by a FEMA security officer.
This one has been working its way through the courts for several years. It had been stalled for a while when an appellate court unaccountably denied it class-action status, but the NJ Supreme Court just overturned that decision.
The New Jersey Supreme Court certified a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart by employees who claim that the nation’s largest retailer denied them meal and rest breaks, and forced them to work off-the-clock.
The Thursday ruling revives the workers’ lawsuit, which had been denied class-action status by a trial judge and an appellate panel.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Judith L. Spanier said the class would contain about 80,000 current and former Wal-Mart employees.
Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said the Bentonville, Ark.-based company was disappointed with the ruling and was studying its options.
“It’s our policy to pay every associate for every hour that they have worked. Any manager who disregards that is subject to discipline, up to and including termination,” Simley said.
That’s a flat-out lie, viz the very next grafs: