In the last year anti-government rhetoric has increased as those opposed to the new Administration object in terms that suggest a violent response to government policies Government workers bear the brunt of the criticism and fear their service to the American people may put them at risk. On Thursday, February 18, that fear became a reality as Joseph Stack allegedly intentionally crashed a plane into an IRS office building. The media has reported that two individuals were killed including Stack and thirteen have been injured.
John Gage, national president of the largest union representing federal workers the American Federation of Government Employees expressed the views of his members the day after the attack in response to this latest development:
“We are deeply troubled by the events of yesterday and by the increased use of hateful rhetoric against public employees. Federal employees are dedicated public servants and their safety is our utmost concern.
“The attack on the IRS office building in Austin , Texas is a sober reminder of anti-government animus and has startling similarities to the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. We offer our heartfelt sympathies to the 190 employees who were in the building at the time and to the families of those harmed in the attack,” said Gage.
AFGE has expressed concern over the increased frequency of threats made against federal employees, following the election of President Obama. The union has also been critical of remarks that attempt to demonize the work of federal employees, placing them in harms way. “Recently, we have seen in uptick in the way public officials and media personalities have used rhetoric to describe public employees that is increasingly irresponsible,” said Gage. “Unfortunately, these remarks do not always fall on sensible ears and the consequences can be tragic.”
AFGE members are meeting this week in Washington, D.C. as they continue to organize and lobby for good government. The trend to turn Capitol Hill into Wall Street by those who feel essential government services are an opportunity for profit making is finding less success after the recent collapse of the American economy thanks to the Wall Street business culture. AFGE members will be lobbying Members of Congress this week to communicate the message that only experienced government workers who answer only to the taxpayer can ensure efficient and competent government.