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GAP Sends Letter to House Oversight Committee Over Official Time Reform Act
March 08, 2017
H.R. 1364 Threatens Whistleblower Rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act
WASHINGTON – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform expressing concern over the threat to whistleblower protections within H.R. 1364, the Official Time Reform Act. In its current form, the bill prohibits union stewards from receiving retirement credits for work that includes collective bargaining or political advocacy.
In the letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine and Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt emphasized the outsized role union stewards have played in promoting government accountability. As just one example, Food Inspection Union stewards worked diligently on the front lines to shield truth-tellers in the food industry from retaliation after disclosing health safety hazards – thereby preventing the potential spread of foodborne illnesses to the general public.
The passage of this bill will almost certainly weaken whistleblower protections as outlined in the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). By harming union stewards as powerful elements of support, potential truth-tellers who wish to speak out against government fraud or abuse may be too intimidated to do so, which would put public safety and health at risk. It would also strain the already backlogged U.S. Office of Special Council (OSC) and Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
Now is not the time to allow the strength of unions in their role of looking out for workers nationwide to deteriorate. As GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt noted:
“We need to protect the voices of American workers. We can’t let union power erode any further.”
Each day, union stewards play an integral role in representing average workers. GAP’s Legal Director Tom Devine added:
“Whistleblower retaliation and other prohibited practices are violations of every collective bargaining agreement in the federal government. Since the OSC can only provide anecdotal support, union stewards are essential foot soldiers on the front lines of enforcement of the WPA. Through their day-to-day presence, they play a unique role in preventing and nipping harassment in the bud.”
Contact: Luke Drabyn, GAP Communications Associate
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 130
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.