More than four out of five of the 250 employees at U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service being reassigned to Kansas City will decline relocation, according to a survey conducted by their recently certified union – the American Federal Government Employees.
Based on the survey, ERS can expect to lose up to 87 percent of the workers subject to relocation, and 61 percent of its total workforce, the union alleged.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced June 13 that 250 ERS employees are among the more than 550 USDA employees scheduled to move to Kansas City on or before Sept. 30.
USDA said it conducted a cost-benefit analysis showing a savings of nearly $300 million nominally over a 15-year lease term on employment costs and rent, or about $20 million per year.
In response to the relocation, ERS employees voted on May 9 to form a union with the American Federation of Government Employees. National Institute of Food and Agriculture employees also voted to unionize on June 11.
Meanwhile, the House on Tuesday voted 226-198 to block the relocation in an amendment to a federal appropriations package for fiscal year 2020.
ERS provides information and research on agriculture and economics, including publishing commodity outlook reports and forecasts of farm business and household income.
Perdue said this week USDA is prepared to fill the vacancies after the ERS and NIFA move to Kansas City. “We are recruiting already for new positions there that may be opening for those we know who definitely will not be going,” Perdue said.