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January 28, 2003

Thou Shalt Not Insult Supreme Leader Big Brother

More from Big Brother Central

(Texas AFL-CIO eNews)

Jeff Darby of the American Federation of Government
Employees reports that the National Council of Field Labor Locals
(NCFLL), which represents 10,000 workers in the U.S. Department of
Labor, is challenging an order by George W. Bush's Secretary of
Labor censoring its publication.

The union says that Bush political appointees objected to the
union's characterization of the administration's policies affecting
federal workers.

"We are taking the matter to arbitration and we're confident that we'll win," Council President Ron Yarman said in a news release. "We believe that an impartial third party will agree with us that this is 2003 and not 1984. However, we're outraged that even after an arbitrator rules in our favor, the DOL won't incur any meaningful penalties for muzzling free speech and fair comment by the union."

NCFLL's December newsletter discusses White House orders to
privatize 125,000 federal jobs. A cartoon on the same page lampoons
Bush for his decision to cut the 2003 federal pay increase.

The labor department sought to ban distribution of the publication
through inter-office mail. Under the collective bargaining
agreement that applies to NCFLL, only "libelous or scurrilous"
material may be banned from the in-house mail system.

The material in question can be found at www.ncfll.org, in the
latest newsletter posted. The standard of criticism in the article
and satire in the cartoon is clearly mainstream and probably not as
tough as what you can find on many editorial pages. (In fact, White
House press corps dean Helen Thomas was quoted this weekend calling
Bush "the worst president ever. He is the worst president in all of
American history.")

This censorship incident is a walking argument for the need for
federal employees to maintain both union and civil service
protection, so they won't be subjected to constant political
loyalty tests in addition to the requirement that they do their
jobs well. Instead, under cover of national security, the Bush
administration has doggedly sought to weaken federal unions and, in
some cases, eliminate them.

Posted by Nathan at January 28, 2003 12:57 PM

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