Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Bush Outlines Responsibilities for Department of Homeland Security. (News)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Bush Outlines Responsibilities for Department of Homeland Security. (News)

Article excerpt

President George W. Bush says that the government and U.S. citizens must be prepared "for the long-term vigilance" that threats against national security will require. Workers' rights groups, however, complained about his position that the legislation should exempt parts of government from the federal-labor management relations statute "to [serve] our national interest."

"The No. 1 priority of this government and the future governments will be to protect the American people against terrorist attack," said Bush while campaigning for the homeland security bill.

Adding he believes it's important to create a Department of Homeland Security to prepare America for the "permanent duty" of defending the country, "We need this department for one main reason: America needs a group of dedicated professionals who wake up each morning with the overriding duty of protecting the American people."

Bush, however, threatened to veto any homeland security bill that doesn't exempt government workers who are moved into the Department of Homeland Security from collective bargaining laws and civil service rules, claiming such statutes could jeopardize national security.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney pointed out that the United States "has guaranteed its career employees civil service protections and successfully fought and won wars."

He added, "History has proven that guaranteeing workers their rights does not imperil national security. Congress can and should create a new homeland security department without undermining the basic rights and protection of the thousands of government workers who will continue to serve their country in that new agency. …

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