Democrat Turns On AFGE Union, Sides With Republicans

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AFGE National

AFGE National

Benjamin KrauseU.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn turned coat on public sector unions like AFGE to fight back for deep reforms of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thanks to the Diana Rubens scandal, Walz finally joined the camp of realists (not just Republicans) who know public unions need massive reform.

“There will be those who don’t understand this issue who will see it as a proxy fight, let’s get rid of public sector unions,” Walz said. “That’s not going to fix the VA. Let’s be very clear. Getting rid of public sector unions is not going to fix the VA. If there are reforms that need to be done, I’m certainly willing to look at them.”

LISTEN: Examining concerns about the Veterans Health Administration

Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves are two senior executive employees accused of a massive fraud scheme involving manipulation and fraudulent claims. Public outrage over their scandal caused many to turn against current union employees and senior executives in the Federal government including Walz.

[easy-tweet tweet=”@AFGEnational @reptimwalz – Rubens scandal spells trouble for unions… #VAisLying”]

Now, crimes and abuses of VA executives and union employees are coming home to roost. It is obvious that the party for the union is the Democratic Party. It will be interesting to see how Walz walks this fine line given his dependence on the union for campaign support.

For a little background, Walz enlisted in the Army National Guard at 17 and retired 24 years later after reaching the rank of Command Sergeant Major. This makes him the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress.

As a Democrat, Walz has been a longstanding supporter of local unions. According to the Star Tribune, “The local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union officials in Minnesota did not return calls for comment.”

Last campaign cycle, public action groups and union officials contributed $54,000 to Walz. He raised a total of $1.5 million meaning public unions are not a primary source of funds. Perhaps he will dodge a bullet with this one.

The sad reality here is scandals like Rubens’ spell big trouble for unions regardless of affiliation with the National AFGE Union that is at the root of many problems for veterans nationwide. I come from a union family and am saddened to see personal and special interests erode the credibility of locals unions that have historically done good things for the middle class in the private sector.

Maybe it is time for public sector unions to hit the road. Federal employees have a lot of rights already – well beyond non-union private employees. The added layer of public sector union protections has clearly created a monster where few employees are held accountable.

One thing that has surfaced from the Rubens’ scandal is that union employees are even harder to fire than SES executives. Perhaps American needs to reconsider allowing public sector unions in Federal government. They certainly have a stranglehold on health care and benefits for veterans.

What do you think is the best way to root out corruption within the SES and union ranks in Federal government?

Source: https://www.brookings.edu/events/2015/11/04-veterans-health-administration

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18 Comments

  1. The question is what might be the best way to root out the corruption relies on an underlying assumption – that only some of the system is corrupt. The question suggests that at some level there are at least some employees in that are honest. I don’t think there are. From my doctor, to the COS at Roceburg VA (a small VA) the turnover rate of doctors exceeds 300% of national norms according to a doctor from VHA that went on TV and said he is only remaining to save veterans from the staff at VHA.

    I have no idea if he was fired. I have lost count in Oregon about the Nerwspaper and TV articles that bring into question every single remaining employee. For instance, after my own CAT One PRF was exposed in the newspaper in two consequtive Sunday editions, the DBC met, and issued without my knowledge a “CAT 2” PRF. It does not say why. Just an entry that goes like this; “A cat 2 PRF has been issued on this veteran under the auspices of the DBC and the Chief of Staff. All, non face-to-face communication is to be forwrded to Dr. #####”. Dr. ##### is the chairman of the Disruptive Behavior Committee that was a featured named participant in what the paper exposed on telephone recordings in attempting to solicit a Class C felony of coercion. He admitted on recording I had never been a threat or disruption on campus. They reported it. It was a Restraining order served on their clinic manager that netted this.

    My point is this; an entire committee now believes that they have the power not to protect against patient violence, but to require all medical personel to send all communications, relevent or not, to the DBC for review. Furthermore, at my last shrink visit, the DBC requires now 2 extra clinicians present. Noted in my record is by the doc is that I am a non-threatening, and peaceful patient on crutches. But even though I told the extra people “I do not consent to you here.” they remained and participated in my drug therapy.

    How can you root out corruption, when at every level, right down to that doc who allowed two people into the exam room just to observe via the DBC command over my informed consent? Truth is, that entire clinic got caught distributing drugs outside the clinic. I posted the UOR of this site and it was taken down so I hope the site does a FOIA for that 13 page document that shows the ENTIRE clinic staff was complicite in operating an illegal drug distribution network for vets that were being ousted by the DBC at Roseburg.

    So how do you root out corruption, when entire buildings, entire departments, and virtually every leadership person left are the ones that the tv doctor is staying behind to protect vets against?

    By the way, the newspaper has taken the flag against me now very personal. It was placed there one week after their story printed and they have been present at every meeting as witnesses to protect me. They are hot, and pretty mad that I am again being retaliated, but this time because of their story. They say this is a big deal to them and they are going to aggresively pursue a third edition.

    And the newspaper is widely known as liberal and Democratic leaning. It boggles the mind the depth of corruption. “rooting out corruption” is like trying to take the rot out of the centrer of an Oak tree and hoping that will fix it.

    The tree must come down.

    • Redturtle,
      How about putting the “name”, “dates” and “newspaper article titles” on here. This way we can google them. When the come out with the third addition, let us know that also. It will be a great read.

    • I’m really glad someone Listen to you and can see through the misdeeds and disservice they are committing against veterans!

      IT will be a great day, when these people are held accountable for hurting veterans by using the illegal disruptive committee as their choice of weapon!

      It’s very sad that our elected officials, can’t see the harm they are doing by not acting on this illegal process, where the VA can accuse any veteran they choose! To punish!

  2. Unions represent yet a fourth interest in the VA medical care scandal. You have management which is supposed to regulate the quality of care, you have veterans who are supposed to receive care, you have employees, who are supposed to provide the care. Some people think of unions as representing employees but they are in fact they are yet another interest that represent themselves. Their existence is not necessary for the VA to meet their mission. They get in the way of true reform and in a system that is broken they should be cut out of the equation.

    • Unions do what the DOD/VA will let them do. This what is called labor/management agreements, where the union will receive union dues, fees and the DOD/VA DOES whatever it wants with taxpayer money. The unions do a great disservice by not backing up their whistle blowing union members thus stifling all other employees from bringing problems to light. The most important agenda is to bring in tax payer money and then structure ways to not spend the taxpayer money on what is needed, taking care of our vets. There does need to be an audit of both the DOD/VA and all of the unions to find out where the money actually goes and who’s profiting..
      BTW, unions have been selling out their employees for about 40 years now, when the AFL AND CIO rejoined and one of the big reasons as to why, unions are only 11% of the workforce. because of selling out employees for the employer’s sake and congress made the deal. Congress makes all of the deals for vets and civilians. Its the employers and the DID who benefit.

  3. I listened to the audio Ben put on as a link. Very informtive. If y’all haven’t listened, or watched the video (C-Span), you should.
    “Accountability and Transparency at VA” was mentioned a number of times.
    What I got from this was, “The administration side of VA is what’s causing most of the problems at many VAs”! And it’s extremely hard to fire or hold them accountable. Which the Veterans Committee is trying to address.

    Now, We all should agree VA does have SOME good employees and SOME good VAMC’s out there. Yet, at the same time, the bad ones cause a great deal of animosity towards the few good ones. Whistleblowers are still being ostracized and vilified on a daily basis. These things have got to stop. This was not addressed during this ‘session’!
    Veterans “trust level” has eroded over a long period of time due to; blatant mismanagement by physicians and directors (SESers in particular), greed, corruption, mismanagement of healthcare records, loss of health records, “reforms” not taking place, employees not taking their jobs (or duties) seriously.
    This list could go on and on.

    I also believe, Congress and the Senate are not fully addressing, or fathom, the many issues facing veterans today or in the past. I believe they need to “charge VA employees with criminal acts” when it’s been proven. They should have the power to place reprimands in all VA employees records when applicable.
    When, for example, “teams” are sent out to help VA’s to “become more proficient”, and are summarily sent away. As was the case with the Phoenix VAMC twice now. Those in management positions should have been removed from office and demoted on the spot by the Secretary of VA, Bob McDonald. Another example was out at the West Los Angeles VA last year, where during a severe draught, VA employees were caught watering their front lawn area. This was ordered by the upper management so the “lawn would look good when the Secretary, Bob McDonald showed up!” Btw, the “water management of Brentwood” had informed them to cease.

    Veterans have been voicing their concerns for quite some time. Yet, VA’s across this country have refused to listen.
    I also believe, these people in Congress and the Senate have forgotten what they were elected to do. It was mentioned that the voting public have had enough of their inaction. That was stated towards the end of the interview. It’s very true, the voting public feels the Congress and Senate “are takin advantage of the people!”
    There’s only one way I would summarize this. That is for ALL our elected officials to refund (give back) ALL monies they have accepted from lobbyists, special interest groups, super PAC’s et cetera. And never to accept anything ever again. Basically get elected using your own monies and on your own merits. As was done in the beginning of our “Constitutional Republic”!

    • Here’s another VA FUBAR that has surfaced on the “military . com”, “Daily News” website via the “Tampa Tribune”.

      “VA Tells Veteran He’s Dead, Cuts Off Benefits”

      5 Nov. 2015
      Tampa Tribune | by Howard Altman

      In this article it states, quote:
      This is the “…latest of at least six cases where local veterans have reported a similar problem…” here in Florida.
      IMO, even one is unacceptable, but six, that’s egregious acts by someone (an employee) or something (computer glitch)!
      Here’s what I think about “computer glitches”. A computer can only do what the “programmer” tells it to do. Therefore, it falls back onto the “human factor”! Evidently, someone “hit, pushed or keyed in the wrong letter on the keyboard”, plain and simple.

      Get your sh!t together VA employees

  4. An Executive Order by POTUS should declare a national crisis/emergency and SUSPEND the AFGE Union Master Agreement. Cull one-third of the incompetent VBA workforce with prejudice. Put another third on 90 day notice and retrain to serve veterans, not vice versa. Profusely thank the top one-third that actually cares about our Nation’s veterans. Setup boards to review dismissals to ensure not retaliatory or not warranted. The major issue to get around is performance reviews; they aren’t worth the paper they are written on. A good culling tool for VSRs is the GS-11 certification examination. Anyone scoring less than 70 needs dismissed. 71-85 needs retrained, above 85 is qualified. Independent agency must oversee all testing/certification. Okay, that’s the start.

    • wont happen Roger. If they got rid of all the incompetent VBA workers you would only have maybe a 10th of the employees you have now. At the VBA hospital I receive my treatment at, you had (notice I say had as she was reassigned and is on probation until further notice) a Hospital Director that you could never get hold of. You couldnt go to her office and you call her office and you are told there is no one there and you cant leave a message. Same for the Chief of staff. And you have an arrogant Patients Rep who if he does not want to help you, all you get is “you are trying to manipulate me” or “you are not telling me the truth” I had to contact VA Sec McDonald himself and ask politely if he was going to correct this or do I take this whole thing to the press? I got it corrected toot sweet but I should not have had to go this far.

      The ONLY way this can be fixed is sadly to fire EVERYONE from McDonald on down and then rehire the good ones back,and then make it a strict policy that only Vets are allowed to treat Vets, and if even ONE complaint is lodged and proved, you are terminated. That is the ONLY way this will ever work.

  5. Here’s the next set of lies from McDonald. Can y’all see them. There’s a bunch in this article.
    From “Military Times”

    “Veterans:
    “VA Plans stand down to review medical access issues”
    by Leo Shane III, staff writer
    6 Nov. 2016

  6. I’ve said it more times than I can count. I knew last year’s legislation was doomed to fail when it (supposedly) lowered the threshold to fire ONLY corrupt and/or incompetent executives.

    At the individual level, the corruption, apathy, and generally hostile attitudes toward veterans among VA employees has the most profound impact It wasn’t Eric Shinseki who initially denied me service-connection for presumptive conditions. It wasn’t Allison Hickey who initially denied me benefits for migraines going all the way back to my active service days. It isn’t Bob McDonald who continues to deny me benefits for my other presumptive conditions.

    No, it’s the rank-and-file employees at the VBA who have played the “deny, deny, then hope they die” game with me, In fact, General Hickey was instrumental in removing some of the obstructionist BS I’ve had to deal with before her resignation.

    I don’t know if outlawing public-sector unions is the answer, but suspending some of the provisions of the current CBA that protect substandard employees is certainly a great place to start. Unfortunately, as courageous as Walz has been with this, the problem is that few, if any, of his Democratic comrades will join him. Changing the culture at the VA would require cleaning house — in both the exempt and nonexempt side of things. Obama will not abide stripping union power, and his acolytes in the House and Senate will vote lockstep with the party line.

    Good for Walz, and possibly even better for veterans that this new scandal seems to finally focus on the AFGE. His opposition, though, will most likely be nothing more than symbolic. Republicans need 100% support PLUS five Democratic Senators to take action against the AFGE. If they get this, Obama will veto any such bill. Republicans would then need an addition seven Democrats to defect from the party line to override this assured veto. The chances of this happening are slim to none, and Slim just left town on the stagecoach.

    The only solution to this is for veterans to make veterans’ rights a front-and-center issue in coming elections and work like hell to replace politicians who favor unions over veterans. Of course, unions have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend to keep this from happening, and VSO’s have very little money to spend to ensure elections focus more on veterans’ issues.

    • Totally agree. That’s why I keep my mantra of ‘The VA needs a complete Enema’…and maybe a second just to make sure the rats are all gone…then make the VA a transitional and career-workplace option/system of Members of Active Duty can work. Run by Veterans…then it truly is an investment in America when a person enlists and trains for careers that could constantly supply the VA with employees that see things from our perspective. Make it under UCMJ as well.

      Discipline and Integrity also left on that same ‘Stagecoach” from most of the VA and the problem is although their definitely are some great employees, the infection of apathy has spoiled the meat on the whole mission.

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