Union workers decry outsourcing at Capitol rally


Federal union workers Tuesday called for public-private competition in government contracting at a rally on the steps of the Capitol organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, flanked by members of Congress including Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., and Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-D.C., decried the outsourcing of federal work to private companies. Government employees should be allowed to compete with the private sector, he said.

"Vital public services should not be turned over to big corporations whose first priority is their bottom line, not the public interest," Harnage said. During the rally, he also stressed the need for agencies to track costs and purported savings resulting from contracting out. "This is about accountability," he said.

Rally participants chanted "Drain the SWAMP!" in response to Harnage. SWAMP-Stop Wasting America's Money on Privatization-is the union's campaign to place a moratorium on contracting out in the federal government. Many of the federal workers sported alligator masks and tails over their clothes.

Wynn announced his intention to introduce the Truthfulness, Responsibility, and Accountability in Contracting (TRAC) Act. The legislation would force public-private competition and require agencies to review and justify current outside contracts, among other provisions. "Federal employees will get to show they can do the job cheaper and better," he said.

Wynn also praised the efforts of the AFGE in advancing the cause, noting that the union was "the brains behind this legislation."

Del. Holmes-Norton said the Clinton administration has not proven that outsourcing leads to cost savings. "Two hundred years ago they built Washington, D.C. on a swamp, but today the swamp is on the Hill," Holmes quipped, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Charlotte Flowers, president of the local AFGE chapter at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama argued that federal employees are generally more dedicated to their agency's mission and are not solely motivated by profit-making.

Speakers and participants at the event said federal employees want only the right to compete with the private sector for government projects, not an automatic guarantee of work.

In addition to Norton, 60 lawmakers have thrown their support behind the TRAC Act, including Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, who also spoke at the rally,

AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. government workers. According to a spokesman for AFGE, many of the core agencies were represented at the rally. Agencies with the highest concentration of AFGE membership include the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration.

The rally was part of AFGE's annual legislative conference.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.