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Brief # 41—Civil Rights


On May 25, 2018, President Donald J. Trump issued three executive orders concerning employees in the federal sector. Executive Order (EO) 13836 deals with new and efficient procedures for collective bargaining between federal sector employees and their respective executive departments and agencies. Executive Order 13837 seeks to make more efficient use of a federal employees’ taxpayer funded time spent on federal sector union activities during business hours. And, Executive Order 13839 seeks to reduce the time required to terminate a federal employee from his or her position. On May 30, 2018, the American Federation of Government Employees, a national labor organization, sued President Trump to prevent EO 13837 from going into effect. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE


Simply put, the President’s three executive orders are hostile to the rights of federal employees. Even with the words “efficient” and “accountability” used in the titles of the executive orders, a closer analysis reveals that each order weakens long standing rights and protections that the federal workforce have enjoyed for decades.

EO 13836 contains a loophole that would permit agencies to unilaterally implement a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) if the federal sector union is deemed to be negotiating in bad faith. The worst-case scenario here is that agencies will simply accuse the union of bad faith negotiations when it is not true “and implement the agency’s version of the CBA without giving the union a say on what they like and what they don’t like in the agreement.”

EO 13837 is also troubling because it seeks to place a time limit on how long a federal employee can help fellow co – workers resolve workplace disputes such as harassment. The original statute granting federal employees official time to resolve workplace grievances initially stated that the time allotted be “reasonable.” Yet President Trump’s order reduces that time to no more than 25% of official work time to these activities. This time limit does not take into concern more complex issues that need more time to be dealt with and does not address what will happen if a problem is not resolved within that limited time frame.

Finally, EO 13839 reduces the time to terminate a federal worker, in some cases down from 120 days to 30 days, and seeks to encourage firings instead of suspensions for “poor” performing workers. In his State of the Union Speech, President Trump stated, “Cabinet secretaries should have the ability to reward good workers.” J. David Cox of the American Federation of Government Employees called the order a “direct assault on the legal rights and protections” afforded to all government employees. He also warned that eliminating the protections in order to quickly terminate federal workers could easily result in removing federal workers because of their contrary political viewpoint. Hopefully, the American Federation of Government Employees lawsuit and the public uproar will help to reverse the steps President Trump has taken with these executive orders. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

American Federation of Government Employees – labor union representing federal government employees.
National Treasury Employees Union – the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees fighting for issues that affect the working lives of federal employees.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org

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