President Bush and Republican Senate leaders stepped up their assault on workplace rights for the 170,000 employees of the proposed Homeland Security Department. The Senate homeland security bill (S-2452) would maintain the workers’ collective bargaining rights and civil service protections. Bush wants to strip away those rights under the guise of “management flexibility,” as the House-passed version of the bill does.

Last week, Bush issued his strongest veto threat yet against the Senate bill, even though the vast majority of the bill falls in line with his homeland security proposal, said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). The bill would merge parts of several existing government departments and agencies and their 170,000 workers into one massive department.

About 50,000 of the workers are union members, while the rest are protected by civil service laws.

Republican leaders will seek to offer amendments to strip the workers’ rights provisions from the bill and also will attempt to kill the bill’s Davis-Bacon protections for construction projects that are part of emergency preparedness related to homeland security.

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Reprinted from the AFL-CIO’s Work in Progress.