Employees at a Small Agency Proposed for Elimination Vote to Unionize

The Chemical Safety Board, which is on Trump's chopping block, investigated the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. The Chemical Safety Board, which is on Trump's chopping block, investigated the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. Charles Dharapak/AP file photo

Employees at the Chemical Safety Board have successfully voted to organize into a union under the umbrella of the American Federation of Government Employees, a union official announced this week.

Workers at the tiny agency, which has been proposed for abolition by the Trump administration in both of its annual budget requests, began the unionization process and filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority earlier this year. A vote among the 22-employee bargaining unit was held from early April until May 1.

Employees had cited the White House’s plans to shutter the agency, as well as potential changes to telework and flexible work schedules, as some of the reasons they wished to form a collective bargaining unit. Also at issue is an effort by CSB leadership to reclassify attorney adviser positions as standard investigators, stripping them of legal duties.

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Peter Winch, special assistant to the District 14 national vice president at AFGE, who has been guiding employees through the unionization process, said the next step is to receive a certification of representation from FLRA. That will provide the legal standing for AFGE to bargain on behalf of CSB workers.

Winch said once that is complete and AFGE brings the workers into Local 2211, which includes a number of small agencies, the union hopes to start negotiations on the attorney adviser issue.

“We look forward to working with the union on our shared goals of a strong and engaged workforce,” said CSB Board Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland, in a statement.

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