Congress is Putting a Target on the Backs of Veterans Affairs Workers

The men and women who care for U.S. military veterans are again under attack.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee has approved legislation that would shred VA employees’ rights at work. It is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives as early as this week.

The VA Accountability First Act (H.R. 1259), introduced by anti-worker Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), would sharply curtail due process at the agency. It would sharply reduce the amount of time to appeal termination, suspensions and demotions.

NFFE-IAM lays out the critical issues with H.R. 1259:

  • H.R. 1259 will place veterans in danger because front line medical and administrative staff will fear for their jobs if they speak up against management or political appointees.
  • This fear is very real since the bill will create at-will employment by removing systematic protections against prohibited personnel practices against subordinates.
  • Systematic protections, such as due process, are there for the system not the individual.
  • The whistleblower protections cited in the bill are wholly ineffective and provide no real protection for those who speak up for veterans.
  • The bill attacks legitimate due process for those accused of poor performance or misconduct by forcing ridiculously short timeliness on employees and their counsels for representation.
  • The bill limits the legal options of administrative judges at the MSPB, a clear sign that the intent of the bill is to corrupt fair and best workforce practices.
  • This bill will disproportionately affect veterans who work at the VA.
  • This bill does nothing to address resource, recruiting and retention at the VA; in fact, it will create bigger problems in each of these areas.

“This bill is being rushed through the House because it cannot withstand legitimate debate,” NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin wrote in a letter to Congress. “The sponsors of this bill do not have the best interests of veterans in mind. If they did, they would not attack the systematic protections that serve as a standard-bearer for truth in reporting care and treatment.”

Call the Capitol at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative. Tell your Representative to reject H.R. 1259, an attack on Veterans Affairs employees and veterans who receive care.