Union leaders upset over Trump executive orders to weed out under-performing federal employees

Union leaders upset over Trump executive orders to weed out under-performing federal employees
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is making it easier to tell federal employees, “You’re fired.”

And union leaders are not happy.

What has changed?

Trump has issued three executive orders aimed at getting rid of low-performing federal employees, the White House announced Friday. The changes could save taxpayers an estimated $100 million per year, according to the announcement.

The new rules promote basing employment on merit rather than tenure. Additionally, federal agencies are encouraged to fire employees instead of suspending them. Employees will also have less time to improve their performance, according to published reports.

A White House announcement stated, “Tenured federal employees have stolen agency property, run personal businesses from work, and been arrested for using drugs during lunch breaks and not been fired.” In a statement accompanying the release, Trump said the government must “operate more efficiently and more securely.”

Under the new orders, federal workers will be expected to devote at least 75 percent of their time on direct job duties.

How did a federal employee union respond?

The American Federation of Government Employees, a union for federal workers, said that 700,000 members have denounced the reforms. Political opposition and potential litigation may result, union leaders suggested.

“We will see him in court, we will see him in the street, we will see him wherever we can be,” AFGE president J. David Cox Sr. said in a Washington Examiner report.

He called the orders “a classic example of this administration’s attack and assault on women, attack and assault on minorities.”

Cox told the Washington Examiner the new rules were “modeled after the VA Accountability Act” that recently became law, allowing for expedited firing of Veterans Administration workers.

He also said he fears the orders are a step toward making federal workers “at will” employees. That could mean taking political considerations in into account for hiring and firing decisions.

Cox said that in his opinion, “President Trump has no respect for the rule of law and this is just the latest case.”