You can rest assured that labor unions across the country are in a big hurry to see Donald Trump out of office and to have Joe Biden (or any other Democrat, really) put in his place. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the unions that represent government workers who are employed at the Social Security Administration. And yes, they have labor unions that are that specific to a particular organizational level. One of these is the American Federation of Government Employees Council 220, which organizes workers at Social Security field offices Another is the Association of Administrative Law Judges, representing judges in courts that hear Social Security disability claims. As Government Executive reports this week, the leaders of those two government labor unions have sent a message to Joe Biden, calling on him to dump SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and his deputy, David Black, before the confetti has finished falling at the inaugural ball. I’ll leave you to guess why for a moment while we look at a few of the details.
Leaders of two unions representing employees at the Social Security Administration on Tuesday called on President-elect Biden to oust agency Commissioner Andrew Saul and Deputy Commissioner David Black on the first day of his administration.
American Federation of Government Employees Council 220 President Ralph De Juliis, whose union represents employees at Social Security field offices, and Association of Administrative Law Judges President Melissa McIntosh, who represents judges who hear Social Security disability cases, said at an event hosted by the advocacy group Social Security Works that the two Trump appointees are ill equipped to implement Biden’s agenda, both in terms of strengthening Social Security and ensuring the agency reopen to the public safely following the COVID-19 pandemic.
These people are trying to portray some sort of reasonable approach, saying that the Commissioner and his Deputy are “ill equipped” to strengthen Social Security or reopen the office “safely” after the pandemic recedes. Their real reasons are far more obvious, as we’ll get to in a moment.
There’s a problem with this demand, you see. The office of the Commissioner of the SSA is, by design, not like cabinet offices that change with every new administration. The Senate confirms these people for six-year terms to provide continuity in the SSA. (Saul was confirmed on a bipartisan basis with 77 votes.) His term isn’t up until 2025. The same goes for his deputy. It would be unusual in the extreme for Biden to try to force them out so far ahead of schedule absent some glaring charge of malfeasance or malpractice.
The real reason the labor unions want these two gone is, as I said, obvious. They have worked diligently to implement Donald Trump’s reforms when it comes to government labor unions. They have vastly reduced the use of so-called “official time,” where union representatives spend their office hours working on union business instead of their SSA responsibilities, doing so on the taxpayer’s dime. They have also enacted reforms designed to make it easier to fire failing workers, along with those convicted of crimes. Under previous Democratic administrations, that was nearly impossible, even in cases where workers were found to be selling drugs out of their desk in the office.
Because of their success in these areas, the unions despise them and want them gone. Reform of abuses by labor unions inside the government was one of the areas where Trump was the most successful. Since the unions fund the campaigns of nearly every Democrat, including Biden, most of that progress may well disappear under a Biden administration. But if Uncle Joe actually bends a knee to them and tries to do this, you can expect a major flurry of court action. It would be a nakedly political hit job on Biden’s part and a dismissal of the way these appointments are designed to work.
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