(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) led 185 Members in opposing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) proposed rule that would make it more difficult for unionized federal workers to obtain effective representation during the EEOC employment discrimination complaint process. EEOC’s proposed rule, which is now subject to a second public comment period, prohibits federal employees participating in a union from using “official time” to assist or represent their colleagues in employer discrimination complaints. In February, during the first comment period, Raskin led 85 Members in requesting that the EEOC reject the proposed rule. After receiving over 1,800 comments overwhelmingly opposing the rule during the initial comment period, the EEOC opened a second comment period on June 1.
Under current regulation, if a complainant chooses a union representative who also works at his or her agency, then the agency must grant both the complainant and his or her representative “official time” while they participate in the employment discrimination complaint process.
The Members wrote: “Over the past 40 years, complainants have often chosen co-workers who serve in an official capacity with the union to represent them in the employment discrimination complaint process […] The proposed rule, because it would deny the official time requirement for union representatives, would also deny the experience and expertise that union representatives offer to discrimination complainants. The loss of their experience and expertise will negatively affect the equal employment opportunity process, which will become less efficient and effective as a result.”
The Members continued: “… we find it highly suspect that the comment period was reopened. We, of course, support the opportunity for those interested or affected by proposed rules to be able to comment on them. But in this case, there was tremendous response, with over 1,800 comments. These comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the rule change. We are concerned that this second period has occurred for the purpose of soliciting comments in support of the rule change that did not materialize on their own the first time, while ignoring the 1,800 comments opposed to the rule.”
The comment letter is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), America’s largest federal employee union. A copy of the letter is available here.
The letter is signed by the following Representatives: Alma S. Adams, Ph.D, Pete Aguilar , Colin Z. Allred, Cindy Axne, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, M.D., Donald S. Beyer Jr., Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Brendan F. Boyle, Anthony Brindisi, Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Matt Cartwright, Kathy Castor, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline , Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., Katherine M. Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, J. Luis Correa, Jim Costa, Joe Courtney, TJ Cox, Angie Craig, Charlie Crist, Jason Crow, Sharice L. Davids, Danny K. Davis, Susan A. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter A. DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Suzan DelBene, Antonio Delgado, Val B. Demings, Mark DeSaulnier, Theodore E. Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Mike Doyle, Eliot L. Engel, Veronica Escobar, Anna G. Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Abby Finkenauer, Bill Foster, Lois Frankel, Marcia L. Fudge, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Jared Golden, Jimmy Gomez , Al Green, Raúl Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Josh Harder, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Denny Heck , Brian Higgins, Steven Horsford, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Bernice Johnson , Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. , Marcy Kaptur, William R. Keating, Robin L. Kelly, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Ro Khanna, Daniel T. Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Andy Kim, Ron Kind, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raja Krishnamoorthi , Conor Lamb, Rick Larsen, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Susie Lee, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Nita M. Lowey, Ben Ray Luján , Stephen F. Lynch, Carolyn B. Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Lucy McBath, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin , James P. McGovern, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Joseph D. Morelle, Seth Moulton, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell , Stephanie Murphy, Jerrold Nadler , Grace Napolitano, Richard E. Neal, Joe Neguse, Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Chris Pappas, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald M. Payne, Jr., Ed Perlmutter, Scott H. Peters, Dean Phillips , Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, David Price, Jamie Raskin, Kathleen M. Rice, Cedric L. Richmond , Max Rose, Harley Rouda, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Raul Ruiz, M.D. , C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Linda T. Sánchez, John P. Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Bradley S. Schneider, Kurt Schrader, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, David Scott, José E. Serrano, Donna E. Shalala, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Elissa Slotkin, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Abigail D. Spanberger, Jackie Speier, Haley M. Stevens , Thomas R. Suozzi, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Bennie G. Thompson , Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Xochitl Torres Small , Lori Trahan, David Trone, Lauren Underwood, Juan Vargas, Marc A. Veasey, Nydia Velázquez, Peter Welch, Jennifer Wexton, Susan Wild, Frederica S. Wilson, and John Yarmuth.