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OPM: Remove Trump Union-Busting Orders from CBA's

Biden repealed them, but agencies have been waiting on OPM to issue guidance

Brian Young's picture
Mar 15, 2021

On President Joe Biden’s third day in office, he signed an Executive Order repealing Trump’s anti-union executive orders that forced federal agencies to institute anti-union provisions into their collective bargaining agreements. While the order was signed in January, some agencies have been slow in rolling out the new procedures.

Some of this was due to a lack of top officials being approved to run departments, as the Senate spent much of January and February approving Secretaries and their deputies. Other agencies were waiting on specific directions on what they are supposed to implement and how they should go about the process. Now a memo from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is providing that direction by telling agencies to cease following Trump’s orders immediately.

The new guidance included in the memo instructs agencies to quickly identify and then revise or rescind any actions they may have taken in the last few years to implement the Trump workforce orders. At agencies that are currently engaged in collective bargaining negotiations, they are instructed to withdraw any bargaining proposals that implement Trump’s provisions and replace them with ones consistent with Biden’s new policy. If they already renegotiated Trump policies into their agreements OPM is urging them to revisit those specific provisions.

“Agencies must identify those provisions and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law and the policy articulated in [Biden’s order], engage impacted unions, as soon as practicable, to suspend, revise or rescind the actions covered in these CBA provisions,” Kathleen McGettigan, OPM’s acting director, wrote in the guidance.

The memo also says that agencies need to take up any Trump provisions that were forced upon them by the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). The panel imposed several decisions on agencies and unions without the full agreement or support of the union, instead forcing one-sided agreements onto the union. This includes contracts at the Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“On behalf of the 700,000 government employees we represent, I applaud the Office of Personnel Management for moving so quickly to issue today’s guidance,” said Everett Kelley, the President of AFGE. “Today’s action by OPM is an important step toward restoring federal workers’ union rights across the government and enforcing President Biden’s order rolling back the illegal union-busting executive orders issued by the previous president. While some agencies already have moved to roll back the last administration’s assault on workers’ rights by returning necessary office space to union officials, restoring representational time for union representatives, and revising contracts to remove anti-worker provisions, not all agencies have acted promptly. This guidance confirms that all agencies must implement President Biden’s order and OPM’s guidance, and come back to the table to renegotiate contracts that were corrupted by the previous administration’s illegal actions. It’s time to fully restore the rule of law and the rights and protections of federal workers.”

In the guidance, the OPM makes it clear that agencies don’t have to reopen their CBA’s, but rather just make changes to the parts that are now in violation of the Biden Executive Order.

Repealing these orders has been a top priority of federal unions like AFGE. While they applauded the move in January, they have been in a holding pattern as the agency heads got their feet under them and decided how to handle these changes.

The memo from OPM also directed agencies to begin engaging with unions in bargaining over permissive subjects which “cover the numbers, types and grades of employees or positions assigned to any organizational subdivision, work project, or tour of duty and the technology, methods, and means of performing work.” They directed agencies to bargain in good faith on these topics and they warned the departments that failing to do so would be inconsistent with the Biden Administration’s directive.

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