Federal Diary: Union Leaders Remember Kennedy as a Strong Advocate, Good Friend

By Joe Davidson
Thursday, August 27, 2009

RENO, Nev., Aug. 26 Federal employees lost a good friend when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) died Tuesday night.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, recalled a man who was "visible and upfront in his recognition of federal employees."

When he spoke to the organization's rallies and legislative conferences, his remarks "were from his heart and from knowledge that he had about the work that they did," Kelley said. "It was never a scripted speech that he read. . . . You could see the passion that he had for federal employees, for the country and for the work federal employees did for the country."

From a long list of federal workplace issues that Kennedy advocated, Kelley made particular note of his efforts to fight plans by the George W. Bush administration to have outside contractors do government work.

"He believed first and foremost that the work of the federal government could best be done by federal employees and [they] needed to be supported in the work they were trying to do. So, his work against privatization of federal work, I would say his fingerprints are all over that," Kelley said.

Among the federal workplace issues that Kennedy advocated, the employees union cited:

-- His call for Department of Homeland Security staffers to have full collective bargaining rights.

-- His demand for a return of collective bargaining rights to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employees.

-- His effort to save jobs at an Internal Revenue Service facility in Andover, Mass.

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