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White House Moving Forward With Attacks on Workers and Their Unions

posted October 8, 2019

The Trump Administration is going forward with implementation of a trio of incredibly harmful Executive Orders, attacking workers' due process and other basic civil service rights.

Among other harmful provisions, the three Executive Orders (EOs) direct agencies to prohibit due-process and just-cause protections for workers in all new negotiated agreements, reduce to just 30 days the amount of time an employee would have to show improvement before that employee could be disciplined or removed, and generally work as quickly as the law allows to remove any employee accused of being a poor performer.

In addition, the EOs place severe limits on the scope and length of contract bargaining and the use of Official Time, created to allow employee-elected union representatives to perform their duties of fair representation.

Taken as a whole, the three Executive Orders represent an overt attack on federal workers and their rights to have union representation.

The Office of Personnel Management recently issued guidance on the implementation of the three EOs. You can read that guidance at this site.

The OPM move comes after a ruling this summer by a Federal Appeals Court, overturning a lower court's injunction that federal employees' unions -- including FEA -- had won against implementation of the orders. The Appeals Court threw out that injunction, without ruling on the legality of the EOs, declaring that the issue should have first been brought before the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) before the courts could rule on it. You can read FEA's update on the Appeals Court ruling at this page.

The Executive Orders cannot negate existing negotiated agreements or federal civil service laws and any attempt to do so will be immediately challenged by FEA and other unions through the grievance and arbitration process. Unfortunately, that process is not a quick one.

The currently valid negotiated agreements for both Overseas and Stateside FEA members include language providing for due process rights, grievance procedures and just-cause for dismissal. Those protections will remain in place so long as those contracts remain in effect.

However, DoDEA has already proposed to include the harmful provisions mandated by the Executive Orders in the new Negotiated Agreement for Overseas employees currently being negotiated. FEA will of course opposed any such proposals but we expect the White House-appointed Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) will ultimately impose management's terms if, as expected, DoDEA seeks to declare an impasse at the end of the minimum required bargaining period later this year.

Those and other harmful proposals from DoDEA have been reported to FEA members in Overseas Contract Bargaining updates, available at this page.

Both the legally-valid FEA Stateside Master Labor Agreement signed in 2005 and the bogus-contract illegally implemented by DoDEA last spring include due-process and just-cause protections, as well as a guarantee of Official Time for certain union reps. This means DoDEA cannot threaten those rights for Stateside employees.

The three Executive Orders violate federal employees' civil service rights and protections as passed by Congress. While the Appeals Court ruled this summer that the lower court issued the injunction against implementation of the EOs prematurely, it did not in any way rule on the legality of those orders. Though it will first require a lengthy process including taking the case before the Trump-appointed FLRA, the illegal implementation of these EOs can and will be challenged in court. In addition, the EOs themselves can be wiped out at any time by any future occupant of the White House.

FEA and other unions will continue to fight these illegal EOs and seek restitution for any employees illegally and improperly disciplined or harassed under them.

These orders are meant to silence employees and their union representatives. We can and must fight to make sure that does not happen!