Union: Management cannot misuse EOs to avoid negotiation

A top union is reminding federal employees to be on guard for illegal changes in the rules governing their workplaces—illegal changes that, in these times, might be ordered by management.

The American Federation of Government Employees—and other federal unions and advocates—continue to push back against three executive orders issued by the White House, according to a press release. The EOs, the organizations argue, have been misused by top officials and management to allow changes to the workplace that are not permitted under federal law—and at the very least, not without the consent of workers through collective bargaining.

For now, the union is warning employees to be vigilant.

Why the most recent warning? On Sept. 25, a federal Court of Appeals ruled that the court itself did not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed by AFGE and its allied unions, as they attempt to challenge the Trump administration’s EOs. The latest disappointing ruling came after the EOs were reinstated last summer. The unions are concerned the latest ruling might open the possibility of further abuses.

AFGE, in its release, notes that the White House EOs actually include language reiterating that management must “bargain with unions” if any proposed change might “conflict with a contract currently in place.”

Indeed, at least two specific areas of the executive orders are explicit on this point. Section 9(c) of Executive Order 13836 states that “nothing in this order shall abrogate any CBA in effect on the date of this order.” And Section 8(b) of Executive Order 13839 reiterates: “Agencies shall consult with employee labor representatives about the implementation of this order. Nothing in this order shall abrogate any collective bargaining agreement in effect on the date of this order.”

In any case, AFGE’s release adds, if a workforce contract is expired, its terms remain in effect until any new changed terms are negotiated, the union notes.

“But even though it would be illegal for the administration to implement the executive orders without first negotiating in cases where they conflict with an existing contract,” the release states, “as we have seen with this administration before, no matter the legalities, agencies may try to implement anyway and force us to challenge them after the fact.”

“No matter what the administration does, AFGE will continue fighting these executive orders with every tool at our disposal,” AFGE notes. “Just like we have a say in who should represent us in Congress, we deserve to have a say in matters that affect us in the workplace. That’s democracy.”

The three original executive orders, in summary, signed in May 2018, in outline aim to do the following: 1) limit the amount of time an employee can be under investigation for misconduct and in fact encourages firings for underperformers, 2) states that employees who conduct union activities while on the job must spend at least 75 percent of their time doing government work and 3) calls for the Office of Personnel Management to renegotiate contracts with unions regarding the reporting of official time instead of working directly with individual agencies.

Reader comments

Mon, Oct 14, 2019

The federal government has 85% of management that are corrupt, bigoted and spew age gender biases at any given moment. The other 15% are excellent managers who treat their staff with respect and dignity sharing in the focus of the programs they manage. At the big out fit in Bethesda, 95% of the management are bigots, have age gender biases and are corrupt and inept. They often take telecommuting when actually on vacation, not using their annual leave; they write each other up for bonuses along with hiring their friends and family members. Time to drain the swamp that resides the management bloated minions.

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