Leaders of several federal employee union locals have protested the arrest and planned firing of the president of the union at the National Archives, calling the actions against him an escalation of union busting by the Reagan administration.
Union officials from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) locals representing government workers at the Archives Building, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Personnel Management, Census Bureau and the Department of Education gathered at the Archives Thursday to describe their difficulties with the Reagan administration.
They also came to the defense of Carmen Delle Donne, president of AFGE Local 2578, which represents 1,000 workers at the Archives. Delle Donne was arrested Dec. 8 during a union meeting and taken from the building in handcuffs.
Charges against Delle Donne, 39, include simple assault, destruction of government property and threats, allegedly made over the telephone, to do bodily harm, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ramsey Johnson, who said the incidents occurred over a period of time.
The arrest warrant was issued on a complaint from a GSA official, and a jury trial has been set for Feb. 4.
GSA would not comment on the arrest or firing allegations against Delle Donne, except to say its action was against an individual and should not be viewed as an indication of the agency's overall labor management relationship with the Archives union.
"My firing and arrest are political," said Delle Donne, who denied the charges against him and said GSA is trying to use the criminal courts to win labor management disputes.
Before his arrest, Delle Donne had been targeted for firing, effective Dec. 17, following a bargaining table argument over management's attempt to narrow the scope of a flexitime agreement the union had negotiated.
He claims he was fired for alleged assault on a labor relations official whose arm he touched "while she was chasing me out of the room." He is appealing that dismissal order and continues to hold his Archives job.
At a news conference this week, union colleagues complained that he is being singled out as a way of intimidating union activists.
"We're very concerned about the antiunion behavior of the federal government," said Russ Davis, president of AFGE Local 2782 at the Census Bureau.
Joe Cook, president of AFGE Local 41 at the Department of Health and Human Services, said that under Reagan, agreements negotiated by unions "are not worth the paper they're written on." These same labor abuses, he said, are being committed by a president who "cries crocodile tears" and lights candles for Solidarity workers in Poland, he said.