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Resolutions & Amendments

38th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (2008)

Hatch Act Reform

Resolution No. 5
38th International Convention
Moscone West
July 28 - August 1, 2008
San Francisco, CA

The Hatch Act was originally created in 1939 to ensure political neutrality by prohibiting federal employees from soliciting, accepting or receiving a political contribution in  a government building; running for partisan political office; or engaging in political activity while on duty, in a government building, in uniform or in a government vehicle; and

Amendments to the Act in 1993 failed to anticipate technological advances in communication such as e-mail, blogs, instant messenger and text messaging; and

Investigations by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) have resulted in inconsistent findings of violations, disproportionate penalties for minor infractions and retaliation against union officials; and

A federal employee who forwards a single e-mail with an inadvertent political message could receive the same presumptive penalty of termination, with 30-days suspension, as one who campaigned extensively for a political candidate during working hours; and

The Hatch Act has no statute of limitations or deadline by which OSC must file charges; and

AFSCME respects the first amendment rights of its federal employee members and does not condone knowing and willful violations of the Hatch Act.

That AFSCME recommends the Hatch Act be amended to include a two year statute of limitations; remove the presumption for termination is the appropriate penalty in every case; and require consideration of mitigating and aggravating factors prior to determination of a penalty.
SUBMITTED BY: Saul Schniderman, President and Delegate
AFSCME Local 2910, Council 26
Washington, D.C.