Trump Administration Reportedly Considering Federal Union Busting, Civil Service Reforms

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (left) joins Donald Trump at a meeting with small business leaders during the presidential campaign. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (left) joins Donald Trump at a meeting with small business leaders during the presidential campaign. Evan Vucci/AP

The Trump administration is committed to reforming civil service laws, according to a champion of public sector workforce changes at the state level who said he is advising the White House on the issue.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., said this week he met with Vice President Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the White House to discuss how the administration can bring reforms in Wisconsin to the federal level. The two-term governor rose to prominence over his controversial “right-to-work” legislation that stripped most state and local employees of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. Pence and Gingrich, an unofficial Trump adviser, gave Walker’s ideas a warm reception, the governor said.

They discussed “how they might take bits and pieces of what we did with Act 10 and with civil service reform and how they could apply that at the national level,” Walker told reporters in Wisconsin. “It’s something they’re interested in.”

» Get the best federal news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

Walker, during his short-lived presidential run in 2015, proposed bringing his signature legislative achievements to the federal government. In his policy proposal, Walker pointed to the use of “official time” as evidence of the wastefulness of federal unions. He characterized the practice as “government union lobbying,” though the term refers to some union officials’ ability to spend part or all of their time earning a federal salary and working at a federal office while conducting representational business. He also suggested barring federal unions from using dues automatically withdrawn from feds’ paychecks for political activity.

The governor’s ultimate goal, he said in a “white paper” released at the time, was to eliminate federal employee unions entirely.

“It’s time to address the problems with collective bargaining in public service rather than tinker around the edges,” he wrote. “As president, I will work with Congress to eliminate big-government, federal unions on behalf of the American taxpayer. Big-government unions should have no place in the federal workplace, and I will reform the law to prohibit them.”

Walker has also diminished the take-home pay of his state’s employees, significantly increasing their contributions toward their pensions and health benefits. The governor said he and Pence discussed not just collective bargaining changes but also other reforms including easing the hiring and firing of federal employees, and moving them to a pay-for-performance system. He said he offered his and his team’s assistance in implementing the policies.

Also this week, Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said the Trump administration provided positive feedback to his bill to hasten the firing of federal workers. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec