July 15,2019

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Democratic Social Security and Labor Leaders in Congress Urge New Commissioner to Support Workers

Washington, D.C. – Democratic congressional leaders who oversee Social Security and federal employee rights in the House and Senate today urged newly-confirmed Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul to work in good faith with federal employee unions at the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reverse anti-union actions from the Trump administration.

In a letter addressed to Commissioner Saul, the committee leaders, including Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senate Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy Subcommittee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gary Peters, D-Mich., House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., House Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson, D-Conn., House Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md. wrote: 

“Your confirmation as Commissioner of Social Security provides an opportunity for the agency to wipe the slate and start fresh with the federal employee unions, including by reversing SSA’s actions to implement the controversial and unprecedented provisions of the Executive Orders. Given your past working relationship with the federal employee groups, we urge you to keep the promises you made during your confirmation hearing, work in good faith with the unions, and return to the negotiating table with the federal labor unions.  

In May 2018, Trump issued three executive orders aimed at limiting the rights of federal employees, specifically targeting collective bargaining and whistleblower protections. A federal judge struck down those provisions in August 2018, criticizing them as “an improper use of … authority,” and warning that they would, “effectively reduce the scope of the right to bargain collectively.”

Despite the court ruling, SSA proceeded to use some of these positions while negotiating a new union contract. In May 2019, the Federal Service Impasses Panel, the members of which were all appointed by President Trump, ultimately imposed the new contract terms over the objections of federal employees.  

Commissioner Saul cleared the Senate Finance Committee in March 2019. In June 2019, Saul’s confirmation was approved by the full Senate chamber by a vote of 77 to 16, making him the first Social Security commissioner confirmed since February 2013.

A copy of the letter is available here