For Immediate Release
Contact: Natalia Pérez Santos

AFSCME Files Lawsuit Over DOL Attack on Public Employee Merit System

AFSCME filed a lawsuit today in federal court challenging a Department of Labor rule that allows states to skirt requirements to use a merit-based system when hiring Employment Service (ES) workers. ES workers assist out-of-work Americans in finding job placements and rebuild their lives in times of need. Under the Wagner-Peyser Act, the “merit system requirement” has been a long-standing legal precedent designed to ensure that ES workers are appointed based on merit and can provide access to unbiased retraining assistance, a wage subsidy, job search assistance, health insurance tax credits, relocation assistance and other unemployment benefits.

ES workers provide assistance through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which aids workers facing job displacement as a result of U.S. trade agreements and deficits. They are also critical in finding placements for Americans with disabilities and veterans. The Trump administration rule could result in the politicization and privatization of multiple employment and case management services that the TAA program currently provides, and it could undermine critical public services to Americans who deserve fair access to them.

“Our union has fought for this merit-based system for decades, because public service workers are committed to their communities,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “The public deserves to know that they are receiving assistance from dedicated professionals who have no other interest than ensuring they get the unbiased help they deserve when seeking employment.”