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Federal employees say remote work is better for the planet, resist calls to return to the office

American Federation of Government Employees (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Federal employees are pushing back against an effort to get them to return to the office, claiming that remote working is better for the planet, the Washington Post reported.

Republican Representative James Comer of Kentucky and Democratic Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser are leading the effort to get federal employees back in the office.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers, argued against the bipartisan efforts to get the employees to give up remote work.

According to the union, working from home has positively impacted the climate by reducing car pollution.

Data from the Census Bureau reveals that approximately 81.8% of employees across the nation commute to work in a private vehicle.

"We all know that personal automobiles are responsible for a tremendous amount of pollution through the burning of fossil fuels," AFGE public policy director Jacqueline Simon stated. "So every car trip not taken has an environmental benefit."

A bill proposed by Comer titled "Stopping Home Office Work's Unproductive Problems Act," which produces the acronym "SHOW UP," would require federal agencies to end their remote work policies and have workers head back to the office within 30 days. The legislation passed in the House this month but is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

"The federal workforce needs to get back to work. Federal agencies are falling short of their missions. They are not carrying out their duties. They are failing the American people," Comer stated earlier this month.

During Bowser's third inaugural address in January, she urged the Biden administration to end the work-from-home policy for federal employees or repurpose the unused office space in the D.C. area. The federal government owns or leases one-third of the properties in the city.

"We need decisive action by the White House to either get most federal workers back to the office, most of the time, or to realign their vast property holdings for use by the local government, by nonprofits, by businesses and by any user willing to revitalize it," Bowser stated.

Bethany Dreyfus, president of AFGE Local 1236, told the Post that the pressure to return to the office has "unsettled" Environmental Protection Agency employees.

"So many of us work on reducing emissions in our daily jobs at the EPA," Dreyfus stated. "So to be able to do that not only through our work, but how we get to work, is really important."

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