Unions Seek Court Action to Block Trump Orders
On May 25, 2018, President Trump signed three executive orders on federal employee disciplinary and labor-management policies. In the aftermath of the signing, there was a huge uproar from every nook of the federal employment sector. This week, two employee unions, NTEU and AFGE, went to court to challenge the first two orders.
The first executive order came as no big surprise as The Trump administration has always made it a priority to make it easier for federal agencies to fire underperforming employees. More specifically, the order would significantly reduce the time a worker under investigation for underperformance or misconduct could spend on probation.
The second order slaps unions right in the face. It looks to limit official time use on union matters such as negotiating contracts, settling disputes, and whatnot. In essence, the order states that a federal worker should spend at least 75% of his or her official time doing government work. Currently, Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978 offers protection on the use of official time.
According to the Act, the official time use is often up to the negotiations between the relevant agency and unions. That’s where the third executive order comes in. It looks to place the responsibility of renegotiation of official time use with OMB office within the White House.
Challenging the Orders
In what could be the onset on a long-standing court battle, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Treasury Employee Union (NTEU) have filed suits against the first two orders in separate federal courts.
Both NTEU and AFGE want the courts to block The Trump’s administration plan to limit the use of official time on conducting union roles to a minimum of 25 percent. In the order, the federal agencies would target in negotiations to permit only one hour per bargaining unit employee per year. And to make matters worse, the use of official time would be subject to the approval of Office of Management and Budget.
National Treasury Employee Union, on its own, filed another suit in the federal district court against the first executive order on federal employee disciplinary process. In its statement, NTEU asserts that limiting the amount of time for an employee to show improvement to no more than 30 days denies every employee the “[fair] opportunity” to demonstrate “acceptable performance” that is guaranteed under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.
Whether they’ll overturn the orders remains to be seen. What’s surefire, however, is that it’ll be a lengthy, rocky lawsuit.