Biden waives ethics rules for former union bosses who now work in White House
Republicans cry foul as White House bolsters communication between government agencies and unions
The Biden administration has come under scrutiny from Republicans on Capitol Hill following its decision to circumvent federal ethics rules and staff former union officials in senior posts.
Beginning as early as March, the White House waived certain rules for former labor union personnel slotted to fill Biden’s transition teams and government vacancies, who would have otherwise been prevented from communicating with their old unions.
Senior official in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Alethea Predeoux, was granted a waiver to allow her to facilitate communication between the government agency and the American Federation of Government Employees – a union representing 700,000 federal workers for whom she was formally a top lobbyist, Axios first reported.
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In April, the White House issued a similar waiver, allowing for Celeste Drake, who was tapped to lead the White House Made In America Office, to communicate with her former employers, the Director’s Guild of America and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
The administration has said these are necessary moves to facilitate liaisons between government agencies and labor unions.
In a statement to Fox News on Saturday, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Katharine Cooksey said, "The pattern of corruption between Democrats and big union bosses is obvious – just follow the money and follow the staff."
Biden pledged from the campaign trail to bolster unions across the US – a move that Republicans believe has made the administration overly beholden to them.
Union involvement in White House policymaking has become increasingly evident in recent months.
Reporting by the New York Post last week found that the nation’s second-largest teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), regularly communicated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on school reopening guidelines.
Correspondence obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request found the AFT had a direct influence on language implemented in the CDC’s February safety guidance for in-person instruction.
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The CDC had originally prepared guidelines that allowed in-school instruction regardless of transmission rates. But at the suggestion of the union, the language was adjusted to include a provision that granted remote work for those "who have a household member" or "who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk."
Frustrated parents and city officials nationwide have launched lawsuits and accused teachers' unions of utilizing the pandemic to bargain for increased benefits by refusing to re-enter the classroom.
The AFT political action committee further granted more than $1.6 million in funding to Democratic congressional campaigns and committees between January and March, according to FEC filings.
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"Since the very first day of the Biden administration, every single Democrat has echoed the same union-approved talking points to keep schools closed and to jam a radical, job-killing agenda through Congress," Cooksey said. "While Republicans are working to get kids back in the classrooms and the economy moving again, Democrats are taking orders from their bosses at the unions to keep schools closed and stifle job opportunities."
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment regarding GOP concerns.