Federal Employees News Digest

Union: Management should not misuse EOs to avoid negotiation

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

The American Federation of Government Employees—joined by other federal unions and advocates—continues to push back against three executive orders issued last year by the White House, according to a press release. It is these Eos that employee advocates say may be misused by top officials and management to impose changes to the workplace that are not permitted under federal law—at the very least, not without the consent of workers through collective bargaining.

For now, the union is warning employees to be vigilant. On Sept. 25, a federal Court of Appeals ruled that the court itself did not have jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed by AFGE and allied unions, as they attempt to challenge the Trump administration’s Eos—a disappointing ruling.

AFGE, in its release, notes that the White House Eos, on careful reading, 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.

 

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Contributors

Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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