The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) claims itprovides strong support toÂ whistleblowers, but onehigh-ranking union official in an email obtained by The DailyCaller News FoundationÂ slamsÂ Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblowersfor being uninformed and not coordinating with the union.
J. Ward Morrow, assistant general counsel for AFGE, wrote anemail to other union officials shortly after whistleblowersappeared before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security andGovernmental Affairs in late September in which he trashesRepublicans and whistleblowers. (RELATED: Whistleblowers: The VA Is Clever In Finding Ways ToRetaliate Against Us)
â€œBrandon Coleman said some rather unhelpfulthingsâ€¦Shea was unimpressive,â€Morrow writes in his analysis of the hearing to other unionofficials regarding two of the whistleblowers.â€œHis situation sounds typically horrible, butits clear he either does not support or fails to understand thefull range of things going on and how the republicans are usingthis to take away union rights, which to me has been the lynchpinof pulling this all together.â€
The only person whose testimony receives the Morrow stamp ofapproval is by Sean Kirkpatrick, a non-VA employee.
â€œWorse they will use his testimony to supportthe testimony of Coleman that the VA should contract out/privatizeVA care,â€ Morrow adds.
â€œThey have cherry picked witnesses in mannerto exclude the importance of unions, MSPB rights, arbitration,progressive discipline, due process as part of theequation,â€ Morrow continues.
Morrow bemoans the fact that the whistleblowers didn’twork more closely with the union and completely fail to understandits apparent importance.
â€œToo bad those who testified did notcoordinate with us and are not those who understand the need forall of these rights.â€
But a couple of the whistleblowers mentioned in the email havesomeÂ serious responsesÂ toMorrowâ€™s remarks and a different understandingof the way AFGE operates. In particular, Brandon Coleman, awhistleblower out of Phoenix, finds Morrowâ€™semail embarrassing and in poor taste and recounts how the union notonly totally failed to protect him when he reported his concerns,but bad-mouthed him.
â€œI was raised by a pro unionfamily,â€ Brandon Coleman told TheDCNF. “I joinedthe union with the VA with my first paycheck and have been a unionmember ever since. When everything started to go south in my casein Dec 2014 I turned to local union representation. When the unionfailed to act I went to the OSC and media to protect myself. Upongoing to the media the local union president called me“foolish,” to a steward I know well.â€
â€œIf not for my contacts in Congress, themedia and the brave employees at the OSC, I’d have long agobeen fired, all while my union representation sat back, collectedtheir paychecks, kept their mouths shut and watched,â€Coleman adds. â€œMaybe if the union did what itwas supposed and protected employees like me, the OSC would not becurrently overwhelmed?
Ryan Honl, a whistleblower based out of Tomah, told TheDCNFMorrowâ€™s tactless email makes him seem likeâ€œanother bureaucrat who says no to disabledveterans on having the choice to get care outside a corrupt,inefficient, one-payer bureaucracy. If the care is so exceptional,as people like this senior union official say it is, why wouldanyone go to private care given the option?â€
The email comes at a time of major conflict between Republicansand AFGE. When Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal blocked a motionto send the VA Accountability Act to an up-or-down vote, AFGEapplauded Blumenthalâ€™s move and even toldmembers in advance to contact senators and protest the vote.(RELATED: Whistleblower To Sen. Blumenthal: Quit Standing Up ForUnions Over Veterans)
When asked to comment on the leaked email, AFGE notes in astatement to TheDCNF that â€œFrom Day One of theVA waitlist scandal, some members of Congress have used thewaitlist crisis as an opportunity to undermine the rights of all VAworkers, as opposed to holding accountable the managers andexecutives who created the crisis in the firstplace.Â The system for protecting whistleblowers fromretaliation clearly is inadequate, as evidenced by the testimonyfrom employees whose jobs were targeted after blowing the whistleon management abuse.”