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Trump to Federal Agencies: Restrict Unions

Trump has ordered all agencies to start enacting his anti-union executive orders

Kris LaGrange's picture
Oct 09, 2019

After months of legal wrangling, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has ordered all federal agencies to begin following Trump’s executive orders (EO) to limit union time and make it easier to fire federal workers.

The orders, which were signed by Trump in May of 2018, would limit union time, kick union officials out of offices on government property, and would change disciplinary rules. Federal unions immediately sued to stop the orders arguing that they were a violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). A lower court agreed, but in July a federal appellate court overruled the decision and instead said that the decision should be made by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. This is a quasi-governmental body that governs labor disputes between the federal government and its employees.

According to a memo that was released by the OPM, on October 3, the Court of Appeals finalized their decision to overturn the lower court’s ruling. The agency continued saying that all “previously enjoined provisions, are in full force and effect and should be implemented consistent with the requirements and guidance contained in the EOs.”

The orders also would give management a freer hand in disciplining employees for alleged misconduct, give employees only the minimum required opportunity to improve before disciplining them for poor performance and generally require that agencies move as fast as the law allows.  

With the new OPM directive, all agencies are now expected to begin implementing Trump’s work rules in violation of the CBA’s. In response to the OPM’s move, federal union leaders prepared to file new grievances against the Trump administration.

“Any attempts by agencies to enforce these provisions outside of the collective bargaining process will be met with an immediate legal challenge by the union,” said American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. in a statement to the Washington Post. He went on to say that the intent of the orders is to “remove unions from the worksite and make it harder for our members to report mismanagement or other abuses.”

Cox may not be far off. UCOMM recently reported on a leaked memo that advised Trump on ways to rid the federal government of unions. This 2017 memo included many of the provisions that were included in his EOs just a year later.


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