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Secret Service Wants to Unionize

June 16, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton has decided reluctantly not to support efforts by the Secret Service’s uniformed division to unionize, the president’s spokesman said Tuesday.

``I think the president regrets that, but that’s the situation,″ press secretary Mike McCurry said.

In announcing their intention to hold a protest rally outside the White House on Wednesday, the Fraternal Order of Police said Clinton had promised in September 1996 to help the Secret Service uniformed division win collective bargaining rights.

``Despite meetings and promises, the administration has done nothing to address the concerns of federal officers and done nothing to deliver on the president’s promise,″ said Gilbert G. Gallegos, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The uniformed Secret Service officers guard the White House inside and out from fixed posts; the plainclothes agents are the ones who shield the president himself wherever he goes.

Tim Richardson, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said in an interview that Clinton had told a meeting of his organization’s executive board in September 1996 that it would be hypocritical of him not to support collective bargaining. Of McCurry’s statement about Clinton’s change of heart, Richardson said, ``We have to look on this as a broken pledge.″

McCurry said presidential aides had reviewed the union matter and concluded that the Secret Service should not be granted an exception to a Nov. 19, 1979 presidential executive order which said that, for national security reasons, the right to unionize did not apply to the Secret Service.

He disputed a suggestion that Clinton’s earlier promise to support unionization was a mistake. When asked why Clinton had made the promise before the matter was reviewed, McCurry replied, ``I think that’s a very good question.″ He said he could not answer it.

Many federal government agencies are denied collective bargaining rights based on national security. They include the Customs Service’s Office of Investigations, the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence Support and many agencies and offices of the Defense Department.

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