AFGE offers details on OMB's unionizing efforts

Thursday - 5/19/2011, 10:08am EDT

Peter Winch, deputy director of field services and education, American Federation of Government Workers

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

About 400 feds at the Office of Management and Budget have filed a petition to unionize. They've asked the American Federation of Government Employees about union representation.

Peter Winch, deputy director of field services and education at AFGE, tells Federal News Radio these are "not the top level political appointees, but the typical job is like a budget analyst, program analyst, program manager."

After an office reorganization in the past year, said Winch, "they felt that their frontline employees' pay-ins weren't taken into account as much as they would have liked. Also, they wanted to show some support for AFGE's work on behalf of federal employees in general."

Winch said the move is not a signal that workers are unhappy at the agency, but a sign that they would like more of a voice in how the office is organized and more appreciation for the work they do.

"This is an agency where there's often a crisis and people have to come in, work late, come in on weekends and they're accepting of that culture," Winch said. "They don't mind that culture, because they feel they are engaged in very important work, but they would like more recognition for the fact that they do make those sacrifices."

If they become part of a union, said Winch, "then their management has to listen to all of their suggestions. They have to bargain in good faith. They don't have to do what the union says, but they have to listen to the union's point of view, and that's the big difference."

If the petition allowing the employees to join a labor union is approved by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, a vote could come later this summer. At least 30 percent of the employees at a work site must signal interest before the agency can authorize a vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.