Thirteen unions representing federal government employees jointly filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, aimed at pushing back on President Trump’s recent actions regarding collective bargaining agreements.
What prompted this?
Last month, President Trump signed three executive orders directing changes for the purpose of cracking down on wasteful provisions in collective bargaining agreements between federal agencies and their employees’ unions.
The initiatives set forth by the president would — among other things — make it easier to fire low-performing employees, require that federal agencies renegotiate existing agreements with unions within one year’s time, and limits the amount of time employees can spend doing union work on the taxpayer’s dime.
Reports from both the Office of Personnel Management and Congress were released prior to the president’s executive orders, exposing what was described as gross abuse of a law that allows union members to take time (on the clock) away from their jobs to participate in union activities.
One of the orders also requires that OPM track and make public the use and cost of such union “official time.”
Trump’s administration projects that the president’s recent labor-related orders will save no less than $100 million in taxpayer dollars. One official told Government Executive: “Litigations and grievances, we expect those to be reduced quite substantially, although our cost savings estimate doesn’t factor that in. Once those are factored in, the savings would only be increased, not decreased.”
That same official noted that according to the Government Accountability Office, it currently takes roughly six months to a year to fire a federal employee — and another nine months if the worker appeals.
What are the unions saying?
The unions argue that President Trump does not have the authority to issue such changes, saying that he must first have Congressional approval to modify the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. To buy time, the plaintiffs are asking for a temporary injunction to stop the implementation of the contested executive orders.
Randy Erwin, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employee and FWA co-chairman said, “Trump seeks nothing more than the full authority to fire anyone who disagrees with him or challenges his ideology. By limiting the rightful authority of unions to lawfully represent their members, he gets closer to instilling a culture of fear and intimidation in the Executive Branch.”