CAN THE AFGE BORDER PATROL COUNCIL SAVE DHS  BARGAINING RIGHTS?

Way back in 2016 AFGE’s Border Patrol Council exercised the autonomy it has under the AFGE Constitution to back a different candidate for America’s President than AFGE and the AFL-CIO supported.  It turned out that it backed the winner and in return got a bundle of benefits for Border Patrol employees and their union reps that the White House tormented every other federal union. You can condemn that as we have, but that is the “American way.”  Another election is looming and it well known around LR circles that if it goes a certain way the White House will be controlled by people who want to crush unions into a fine dust. So, you have to wonder what the AFGE Border Council can accomplish if it once again breaks from AFGE’s election strategy and winds up backing a winner. Here is how we see it. 

Should a very anti-union administration occupy the White House come January 2025, it will owe something to the Border Patrol Council.  What that is is a great question. To its credit, if the Council’s backing enables a candidate to look tougher than his opponent on border security, polls suggest that is very helpful to the candidate. If the Council also not only says it favors one candidate, but actively trashes the other candidate that would be “very” helpful to its candidate.

It is hard to imagine the Border Patrol being rewarded with a better collective bargaining agreement than it has today. But it is possible.

It is anyone’s guess as to whether the debt the President would owe would be considered strong enough to overpower the debt he would also owe to right-wing lobbies that really, really want to see him crush all federal section unions. The easiest way to do that would be for a President to declare merely with the stoke of his Sharpie that an agency is engaged in national security work. That decision is virtually irreversible by the courts even without the six current Supreme Court toadies in place.

One option would be for the President to take away bargaining rights from all DHS employees, except those in the Border Patrol. That would set off an interesting dynamic given that Border Patrol Agents are only one-half of an agency. Would the President be barred from protecting only half an agency? Would the half that does lose its collective bargaining rights scramble to get under the protective umbrella of the Border Patrol Council? Does the President leave all of DHS employees with their current collective bargaining rights so as not to undermine the enforceability of an Executive Order designed to protect only half a subdivision of a DHS agency? Your guess is as good as mine.

I suspect that if we were back in the days of Lyndon Johnson the White House would have already neutralized the Border Patrol Council, e.g., excluded them under the national security exception given that his political opponent and his party are ranting daily about immigration being a national security issue.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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