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Stop Betraying Our Veterans

 A Message from the American Federation of Government Employees

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is conducting a massive downgrade of low wage positions that will adversely impact thousands of disabled veterans working for the VA, and it also threatens the very health care and benefits services that veterans depend on.

 On February  12, 2013, the VA notified all its employees that 13,000 jobs would be “reclassified”.  Most of the employees in these positions work in low wage positions, including housekeepers, police officers, and medical supply technicians. A very large number of veterans work in these targeted positions, and were hired as service-connected disabled veterans. For example:

  • Housekeepers: Majority of the employees are Veterans.
  • Police Officers: 87% are veterans;  22% are service-connected disabled veterans
  • Biomed Technicians: 79.5% are veterans; 21% are service-connected disabled veterans
  • Patient Support Assistants: 42% are veterans; 18% are service-connected disabled veterans
  • Claims Assistants: 56.8% are veterans; 17.8% are service-connected disabled veterans

During this vicious campaign, which the VA initiated over two years ago, AFGE has been denied crucial information about the process, and the VA has lied about essential information it did provide.   VA claims that OPM is forcing the Department to comply with “classification” decisions on individual cases, some of which are over twenty years old! There is absolutely NO requirement for VA to follow these decisions.

 What is the VA’s real motivation behind these downgrades?  To reduce its budget on the back of its most vulnerable employees, including wounded warriors who take great pride in serving veterans as VA employees.

 VA continues to maintain that no worker will lose pay. This is flat out NOT TRUE. After two years of saved pay (required by federal law), downgraded VA workers will work at a lower pay rate and grade for the rest of their VA careers, AND their retirement income will be permanently reduced also.

 VA downgrades will also weaken crucial services provided to veterans. Biomedical technicians who repair medical equipment will have little incentive to stay at the VA or train for additional job skills, and VA police officers who are required to take special training to deal with violence at hospitals will seek employment at other federal agencies offering higher grades.  VHA and VBA claims assistants are also targeted for downgrades; they play a crucial role in maintaining medical records and claims files.

 We think it’s cruel and wasteful to allow VA to spend huge sums of Congressional appropriations on classification experts and outside consultants in order to shrink its budget on the back of low wage, disabled veterans and minorities.  Therefore, we are asking Congress to enact a moratorium that prohibits the VA from spending another dollar on downgrades until Congress has the chance to investigate the real story behind the VA’s misrepresentations.

 VA must stop the attacks on its low wage, veteran workforce and their veteran patients. It is time for the VA to stop betraying our veterans and tell Congress, veterans’ groups and the public the truth.



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