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Bloomber and UCOMM

Trump Contradicts Executive Order in Deal with Border Patrol Union

Trump pushes Border Patrol to accept deal that allows the union to spend more time campaigning for his re-election

Kris LaGrange's picture
Dec 12, 2019

For three years Trump has been in a war with labor. He has issued Executive Orders limiting federal unions' ability to represent their members, kicked them out of their offices, and he has appointed the deciding votes on the Janus decision.

This adversarial relationship with labor makes Trump’s next move all the more head-scratching. The Washington Post is reporting that Trump has decided to stick himself right in the middle of ongoing negotiations between the Border Patrol Union and the Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CPB). According to the report, in September Trump told his border head to finalize the contract with the union before it ran out.

The agreement significantly increased the number of union officials allowed to collect a government salary without performing patrol duties, a practice also known as union release time. It also expanded the number of agents whose roles as union officers would allow them to engage in partisan politics. Of course, they are likely to be advocating for Trump and his harsher immigration policies. The Border Patrol Union was the only union that endorsed Trump in 2016.

Trump’s decision to pressure his agency head into accepting a contract that empowers the union is interesting. Trump has issued several executive orders that limit federal unions' power, including one that severely limits union release time. Since September, agencies from across the government have been rushing to renegotiate their CBA’s to be in compliance with the Executive Orders. It is almost a guarantee that Trump’s actions will now be used against him as AFGE continues to make the case in court that Trump’s Executive Orders are illegal.

While we support any move to strengthen unions, this move smells of a quid pro quo for Trump. He knows that the Border Patrol union is the only federal union that will support him. By allowing their leaders more release time and more time to work on political issues, Trump is using taxpayer money to help his re-election campaign, while limiting other unions' ability to campaign against him. Just like when Trump was a real estate developer, he only uses the unions when they provide him some advantage.

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