Evan Vucci/AP

Federal Employee Groups Disappointed but Not Dejected by Trump’s Election

Unions and employees say working with new administration is the best path forward.

Federal employees and their unions expressed disappointment with the results of the presidential election, but vowed to work with the incoming administration to protect their interests and enact positive change in government.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to eliminate “stupid people” from government and reduce the size of the federal workforce, and virtually all federal employee unions endorsed his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Still, the groups claim they are not yet in “panic mode,” and feds interviewed by Government Executive maintained their commitments to their careers and agency missions.

“Federal employees will face a number of challenges ahead,” acknowledged Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. He added, however, that the union will “advocate for federal workers so that they can focus on serving the public.”

He vowed to “educate Congress and the new administration” on the work federal employees do, and to advocate for proper staffing and funding. Trump has said he will institute a governmentwide hiring freeze, with some exceptions, on his first day in office.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, also said he will reach out to the president-elect.

“We ‎will work with the Trump administration on areas of common ground, as we have with every administration for generations,” Cox said. “AFGE will continue to fight for workers’ rights and for the programs and services government employees deliver for the American people. That never changes no matter who sits in the White House."

He added the American people have spoken and feds will “continue to carry out their missions under the Constitution and the law.”

Federal employees in downtown Washington, D.C., expressed a similar sentiment.

Chris Royster, an Environmental Protection Agency employee, said he was “shocked,” “saddened” and “disappointed” by Trump’s election. He added, however, it would be “foolish” to leave government service because of a new president. After “years invested in government,” he said, he did not want to jeopardize his career over one election.

A Smithsonian Institution employee who has worked in government for seven years said he was “shocked” by the results and “scared for what this means for our country.” Still, he said, he said he was “not there yet” as far as refusing to work in a Trump administration, but didn’t rule it out.

“I don’t know what’s going to become a target now, and that’s a scary prospect,” he said.

A Customs and Border Protection employee who has served in government for 28 years said Trump’s election “sucked,” but ultimately it “doesn’t affect [her job] that directly.”

Bill Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said his union was “disappointed” in the results, and with Republicans holding both chambers of Congress he expects “a lot of legislation and initiatives involving the workforce.” He added Trump’s government reform proposals “can be very problematic.” 

“It’s going to be a challenge in many respects,” Dougan warned. He noted there could be a silver lining, as Trump has pledged to boost funding at the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Dougan said NFFE will get to know and work with the “new cast of characters” elected to Congress and convince critics who want to cut government that it “is not good business.”

Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, said his organization would be on “high alert” as Trump enters office, and will attempt to inform the new administration of the necessity of a strong civil service.

Dougan expected turbulence ahead, but was not discouraged about the future.

“It’s going to make our job a little bit tougher, but we’re just going to have to roll up our sleeves and get busy and continue to do the jobs we’ve been doing,” he said.