Rep. Wexton Presses Secretary Perdue on Refusal to Accommodate Urgent Extension Requests on USDA Reassignment
USDA employees report being denied extension requests to accept or decline reassignment despite serious medical and family concerns
Washington, DC, July 18, 2019
Yesterday, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) led a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue following reports from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees that requests for personal extensions to the July 15th deadline have not been approved or have been left unanswered.
Dear Secretary Perdue:
We write concerning reports from USDA employees affected by the proposed relocation of the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and who have been denied extensions to the July 15th deadline to accept or decline reassignment to the Kansas City Region.
As you are aware, your agency gave its employees just 33 days to decide whether they would relocate out of the Washington D.C. area to the newly selected location of the Kansas City Region. Employees were notified on June 13th that they were required to accept relocation or decline the reassignment by July 15th. Employees declining reassignment and who were not retirement eligible would face consequences up to losing their jobs.
We have heard from numerous federal workers who have requested personal extensions to this July 15th deadline, yet none has been approved. One such extension request would allow a current employee undergoing chemotherapy to continue their treatment with their trusted team of physicians. They now face the unconscionable decision of having to choose between continuing treatment with their physician while potentially losing their job and health insurance benefits or relocate to an entirely new city and attempt to find a team of specialist physicians to provide treatment. Another extension was requested from an employee who is undergoing treatment for multiple sclerosis, which also requires comprehensive care from physicians. These are just two examples of the personal hardship that your decision to accelerate the ERS and NIFA relocation is causing.
To that end, we ask you to answer the following questions by Monday, July 22nd:
Although we remain strongly opposed to the decision to relocate ERS and NIFA, we ask that you consider the impacts it is having on federal workers, their health, and their families, and that you do all you can to mitigate the extreme hardships now placed upon them. With over 500 federal employees affected by this decision, we thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.