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Federal judge denies Trump executive orders to make it easier to fire federal employees

Federal judge strikes down parts of President Donald Trump's executive orders on unions. (Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images)

A federal district judge in Washington has struck down most of the key provisions in three executive orders that were signed by President Donald Trump and intended to make it easier to fire federal employees.

What does this mean?

The ruling issued Saturday undermines Republican efforts to curb spending on public-sector labor unions, according to published reports. States such as Wisconsin have made efforts to limit unions' power in recent years, according to the report.

In June, the Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public-sector unions by ending mandatory union fees for government workers across the nation. Federal workers, however, already do not have to pay such fees.

The New York Times categorized Saturday’s ruling as “the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the administration, which has suffered losses in court in its efforts to wield executive authority to press its agenda on immigration, voting and the environment.”

What specifically was in the orders?

The executive orders gave directives to agencies to reduce the amount of time to allow under-performing employees to improve or face termination. The maximum number of days for the probation period would have gone from 120 days to a maximum of 30 days. The orders also sought to limit the ways employees could refute performance evaluations.

Additionally, federal employees would have been limited in the amount of official time they could use for union business during work hours.

“We are very pleased that the court agreed that the president far exceeded his authority, and that the apolitical career federal work force shall be protected from these illegal, politically motivated executive orders,” Sarah Suszczyk, the co-chair of a coalition of government-workers unions, said in a statement.

Unions argued in their legal complaint that the executive orders were illegal. Their argument held that federal law requires the rules to be negotiated by government agencies and the unions that represent their employees.

Further, they argued that the president lacks the authority to override the federal law in these instances.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that most of the key provisions in the executive orders would “conflict with congressional intent in a manner that cannot be sustained.”

What was the strategy?

The White House had tried to cast the executive orders as goals by stating agencies should still try to bargain with unions, according to the report.

But Jackson argued that the executive orders would “impair the ability of agency officials to keep an open mind, and to participate fully in give-and-take discussions, during collective bargaining negotiations.”

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