Fire Federal Employees Who Walk Out Over Gaza Policies: Speaker Johnson

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jan 17, 2024 - 02:40 AM

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) criticized federal employees reportedly planning a walkout over America’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas and called for terminating their employment.

Any government worker who walks off the job to protest U.S. support for our ally Israel is ignoring their responsibility and abusing the trust of taxpayers. They deserve to be fired,” Mr. Johnson said in a Jan. 14 post on X (formerly Twiter). “Oversight Chairman Comer and I will be working together to ensure that each federal agency initiates appropriate disciplinary proceedings against any person who walks out on their job,” he added, referring to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a news conference following the House Republican caucus meeting at the US Capitol in Washington on Nov. 29, 2023. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

The House Speaker’s comments came in response to a tweet by Joyce Karam, the senior news editor at Al-Monitor, saying that “hundreds of U.S. gov. employees plan walkout on Tuesday over Biden’s Gaza policies.” In total, workers from 22 government agencies are expected to be involved in the walkout, she said in a Jan. 13 post.

A list obtained by Al-Monitor showed that departments involved in the walkout include the National Security Agency, the Executive Office of the President, the Naval Research Laboratory, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs.

A walkout by federal employees could count as a strike, which is prohibited per law.

Title 5 Section 7311 of the U.S. Code states: “An individual may not accept or hold a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia if he … participates in a strike, or asserts the right to strike, against the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia.”

Further, Title 18 Section 1918 prescribes the punishment for such an action. Violators of Section 7311 “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year and a day, or both.”

A major strike by federal employees over four decades ago triggered government action. In 1981, around 13,000 air traffic controllers took part in a strike over pay and work schedules.

At the time, President Reagan declared the strike to be a “peril to national safety,” fired 11,000 workers, and barred them from ever joining the federal government again.

‘Day of Mourning’

The walkout is being organized by a group called “Feds United for Peace” who claim that they will mark 100 days of Israel’s operations in Gaza by observing a “day of mourning.” The organizers remained anonymous.

One of the organizers of the walkout told Al-Monitor that their initiative “grew out of a collective desire to do what we could to influence the Biden administration’s policy on this issue … What you’re seeing with this effort is something very unusual, and that is for dissent to be manifested via a physical act.”

Hamas’ attack in Israel on Oct. 7 had killed around 1,200 individuals and led to the kidnapping of roughly 240 people. It is this attack that triggered the current Israel-Gaza conflict. In October, Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza.

South Africa has accused Israel of committing state-led genocide against Palestinians, claiming at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the offensive has led to the deaths of almost 24,000 people.

In a Jan. 11 X post, Lior Haiat, a spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, called South Africa’s claims “one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history, compounded by a series of false and baseless claims.”

South Africa “completely ignored the fact that Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, murdered, executed, massacred, raped, and abducted Israeli citizens, simply because they were Israelis, in an attempt to carry out genocide,” he wrote.

“Hamas’ representatives in the court, the South African lawyers, are also ignoring the fact that Hamas uses the civilian population in Gaza as human shields and operates from within hospitals, schools, UN shelters, mosques, and churches with the intention of endangering the lives of the residents of the Gaza Strip.”

Pro-Hamas Stance

This isn’t the first time that federal employees have been entangled in a controversy over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

On Nov. 28, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote a letter to cabinet-level inspector generals asking for a full investigation into reports that over 500 federal employees representing the Biden administration signed an open letter asking the president to demand a ceasefire.

Such a demand “only stands to benefit Hamas,” Mr. Rubio argued. As the letter claimed to have been signed by workers from several government agencies and political appointees who were confirmed by the Senate, there is “ample opportunity for the signers to abuse their positions to carry out their self-declared goal,” he warned.

“These range from officials at the U.S. Department of State insisting on prolonging the review periods of arms sales to Israel to supervisors denying promotion and salary increases to employees that support Israel.”

“Therefore, I urge you to conduct a full investigation to determine which employees signed the letter, publicize their names, and assess to what extent they have used their positions to work counter to the policies of the president,” Mr. Rubio said.