Executive Council Statement | Labor Law

Union-Busting Executive Orders

On May 25, 2018, the Trump administration issued three unlawful Executive Orders (EOs) targeting federal employees and their unions. By restricting the use of official time, curtailing collective bargaining and eviscerating the due process rights of federal employees, the EOs virtually eliminate the right of federal employees to form unions and negotiate for fair treatment at work. The AFL-CIO will join AFGE and the other unions that represent federal employees in fighting this unlawful attempt at union-busting in the courts and on Capitol Hill.

Specifically, the EO on official time would dramatically reduce the number of hours union representatives would be available to perform legally mandated representation of employees, including for matters relating to discrimination, intimidation or harassment in the workplace. It also would charge unions for office space and access to meeting rooms at the worksite, making it harder for unions to be available to employees at the worksite.

The EO on collective bargaining would require that agencies re-open their collective bargaining agreements for re-negotiation as soon as possible, so that agencies can implement new rules that give management more unilateral authority; set arbitrary timelines for completion of phases of bargaining, and when those timelines expire, allow agencies to enforce their own recommendations without union input. The order also would prohibit bargaining on permissive subjects.

Finally, the EO targeting due process would mandate faster dismissals, the elimination of progressive discipline and remove seniority considerations during reductions in force. This EO strikes at core workers’ rights, opening up limitless avenues for unjust termination and retaliation. It will affect tens of thousands of veterans, law enforcement personnel and other front-line federal workers whose decades-old right to representation in the worksite would be in jeopardy.

Federal employees swear an oath to serve this country and go to work every day to ensure our food is safe to eat, to care for veterans who were injured while serving our country, to prevent illegal weapons and drugs from crossing our borders, and to help communities recover from hurricanes and other disasters.  

The EOs would politicize the career civil service, opening it up to corruption and cronyism. They would do nothing to improve the operations of government agencies. In fact, by depriving workers of their rights to address and resolve workplace issues, they would do the opposite. Issues like sexual harassment, racial discrimination, retaliation against whistleblowers, workplace health and safety, enforcing reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities and so much more would be more difficult to resolve. The EOs will lead to more mismanagement, not less, create inefficiencies and hinder the ability of dedicated federal employees to deliver services to the American public in an efficient and effective manner.

The AFL-CIO will work to have these EOs declared illegal or rolled back by Congress. They represent an outrageous attack against our work, our citizens and our democracy.