The George W. Bush White House has launched policy initiatives on several fronts that would undermine the position of union and non-union workers.
The moves affect federal employees, older workers and future retirees, and much of the activity is taking place at the executive level without a congressional vote.
Among the actions:
The White House proposed regulations that would make it easier for companies to switch to case balance pension plans and, as a result, reduce benefits for long term workers.
Following his legislative victory that gives him the right to disregard Civil Service rules and de-unionize federal workers in the new Homeland Security Department, Bush announced a plan that would place as many as 850,000 government jobs in the private sector. Bush then reduced the scheduled pay increase for civilian federal employees while re-establishing a bonus pool for 2,100 of his political appointees.
The Bush administration is using political loyalty as a factor in determining which scientists get to serve federal panels, upsetting a long tradition of basing such decision purely on merit. For example, the Wall Street Journal reports that Department of Health and Human Services staffers are asking nominees to a panel that decides which studies of workplace injuries get funded which presidential candidate they voted for in 200 and what they think of stem-cell research and abortion.
Bush refused to step in a and urge Congress to extend unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers who are set to lose eligibility on Dec. 28.
these actions are totally in character in an administration that has made the weakening of labor unions a prime mission, Texas AFL-CIO President Joe D. Gunn said plotting to hand over jobs that invoke the public trust to corporate cronies. None of this will save money or even bring private-sector airport security workers- but all will undermine the kinds of jobs that are the economic cement in communities across the nation.
On the cash balance pension proposal, more than 800 claims of age discrimination are pending before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The proposed regulation would resolve the matter in employers favor. Cash balance plans may help younger workers who move from one company to another by providing a measure of portability, but they also save companies millions of dollars by allowing them to freeze future benefits for workers of long standing.
Under traditional defined benefit plans, pension accruals grow faster the longer an employee is with a company. When a company switches to cash balance plans, older workers may not see any increase in their pension entitlements for several years.