Unions riled by background checks

A GSA union says it will file an unfair labor practice complaint about HSPD-12 program Some federal-employee unions are uneasy about mandatory background checks required under the government’s secure identity verification program, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12. At least one union is preparing to file an unfair labor practices charge. Union officials say the mandatory background checks invade employees’ privacy and could lead to job losses.
The National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents about half of the General Services Administration’s employees, will file an unfair labor practices charge early this week, officials said. NFFE’s Region 5 vice president, Charles Paidock, said the union has no choice but to take the complaint to the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
“I don’t like going through third parties,” Paidock said. “You don’t often succeed. But I have to in this case. It’s the logical thing. They are not honoring their obligations under the Civil Service Reform Act to meet and bargain in good faith.”
The union is upset because it says GSA has refused to negotiate on how it is implementing a provision of HSPD-12 that requires that all employees and contractors go through background investigations. GSA officials said the agency has met its labor obligations by briefing NFFE and the other union representing its employees, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
{The government’s secure identity verification program is requiring medical information from federal employees which the employees consider to be too intrusive. Union officials say the mandatory background checks invade employees’ privacy and could lead to job losses, and at NASA the union chapter of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers said answering personal questions on a computer posed a privacy risk. Without REAL privacy protections in federal law for consumer/patient control of medical records, more and more government agencies and corporations will decide to require electronic medical records for more and more uses, regardless of the fact that medical privacy has extremely strong protections under state law and medical ethics. Congress should stpe in and protect Americans from these illegal and unethical intrusions, clearly Congress must grant Americans the federal right to health information privacy. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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