WH acts to make firing feds easier, unions react
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Oct 19, 2020
The Trump administration took a big step in its long march to peel back legal and regulatory protections on wrongful firing and discrimination against federal employees—and feds are reacting in outrage and focused action to stop the move.
The Office of Personnel Management last week published a final rule to help formalize squashing those longstanding protections—in a move that H.R. experts and fed organizations are slamming as opening the door to rising abuse and beatdowns on long-enshrined employee rights.
The new administration rule is seen as strengthening three executive orders President Trump issued over two years ago—in May 2018. These laid down the outlines, facilitating firing of feds—including shortening the time frame that feds have to improve performance and preserve their position—slashing federal resources allotted for legitimate union activities, among other curbs.
The orders have faced multiple court challenges by fed unions, but White House officials appear to be committed to pressing on with them unaltered, despite obvious legal and moral defects, as well as impracticality, union leaders say.
“These rule changes erode key protections for civil servants that will make it easier for federal agencies to discriminate against federal employees and fire them for political reasons,” American Federation of Government Employees president Everett Kelley said in a statement.
Other major unions also are expressing strong member opposition against the new rules.
“Like the executive orders that inspired them, these OPM rule changes clearly have but one goal: to gut due process and get rid of federal employees as fast as possible,” National Treasury Employees Union president Tony Reardon said in a release.
The union said weakening fed protections does not add efficiency, and only benefits the worst actors among private-sector parties that they regulate. “[Who] benefits from a smaller, weaker government? Financial scam artists who don’t get caught by the SEC; polluters who don’t get caught by the EPA; tax cheats who don’t get caught by the IRS; and on and on,” Reardon said.
The new rules “are just the latest in a series of attacks by this administration on the apolitical government employees who serve our country with honor and distinction,” Kelley said. “AFGE will be reviewing this final rule very carefully and weighing our legal options accordingly, but it’s worth noting that none of the concerns raised by our comments were addressed in the final rule.”