Saul and Black have also defied SSA workers, leading Melissa McIntosh, the union president who represents the agency’s administrative judges, to say they “participated in unrestrained union destruction.” This includes “allegedly disregarding contractual rights, discriminating against workers for protected trade union activities and denying union information to which they are entitled”. As early as December, the Association of Judges of Administrative Law and the National Council of SSA Forces (Council 220) declared “no confidence” in SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and Deputy Commissioner David Black and demanded their overthrow. The council’s executive committees’ finding that there is “no trust” was “unprecedented”, according to a union statement, the result of “years of mismanagement and bad leadership”.
“The vote is also an admonition on how to deal with the remote working program, the lack of open communication with SSA workers amid a global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, and the lack of a clear vision for SSA,” the union said. Those allegations begin in 2019 when Saul canceled a popular teleworking program, saying that “a time of workload crisis is not the time to experiment with work at home,” citing the long waits faced by social security applicants. While Saul was finishing this program, he himself refused to show up at SSA headquarters in Baltimore. Ralph de Juliis, president of AFGE Council 220, said staff were told he was “spending his time in New York because he was from there” to explain his absence. So he had to work from home while the employees could no longer.
Turns out he wasn’t actually working from home either, de Juliis told HuffPost. The SSA uses Skype for internal communications and it did so before the pandemic. According to Skype screenshots de Juliis shared with HuffPost, Saul didn’t even bother signing into the program last year. There was one period in January 2020 when his account was inactive for 67 days. “We really believe that Biden should find new people to run the Social Security Agency who don’t aim to be bad and awful to the staff and the union,” said de Juliis.
Democrats, including Senate Chairman of the Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy Subcommittee, Sherrod Brown, have called for President Biden Saul and Black to be fired and replaced immediately. These calls started pretty much immediately after the elections. The two are “unable to implement the Democrats’ vision of protecting and expanding social security,” Brown said in his first statement as chairman. “As agents of the Trump Social Security Agenda, they have cut the perks hardworking Americans deserve, attacked Social Security officials, denied due process to beneficiaries, and unnecessarily increased disability screening during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Brown said, pointing out the numerous regulations SSA followed during Trump’s four-year tenure.
The members of the Key House Ways and Means Committee have followed suit. In a joint statement, Subcommittee chairman John Larson from Connecticut, Subcommittee chairman Danny Davis from Illinois, and Subcommittee chairman Bill Pascrell from New Jersey made a statement in which he asked Biden to demand that Saul and Black resign or to fire them. “Andrew Saul has aggressively promoted a number of measures against beneficiaries and workers with the Social Security Agency that cause serious harm to vulnerable Americans,” said the Democrats. “Mr Saul and Deputy David Black made significant cuts to Social Security. They also conducted aggressive anti-union activities and stopped teleworking for thousands of employees in the months leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The two can be fired by Biden for cause, although Saul’s term is expected to end in 2025. There are undoubtedly ample reasons to boot them, especially in the charges that the Inspector General has been investigating and which they have pressured the judges to reduce the disabled’s admissions to. There has been a precedent for her Supreme Court dismissal since the court last year enacted Seila Law against CFPB, which enacted federal law preventing the president from dismissing directors of independent agencies over political disagreements. There are only two other independent agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that have a single director – Social Security and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Which means that Biden can oust Saul regardless of when his term is supposed to end, and can do so legally.