Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., is one of the letter's signatories.

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., is one of the letter's signatories. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Republican Lawmakers Ask Trump to Repeal Workforce Executive Orders

House GOP members argue a collaborative labor-management relationship saves money, improves operations.

A group of 21 House Republicans sent a letter to President Trump Sunday asking him to reverse course on three controversial executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire federal workers and curbing the influence of federal employee unions.

In the letter, the GOP members of Congress touted the work of federal employees and asked the White House to rescind the executive orders and uphold the current law.

“Federal workers have taken an oath of service to our great nation, and we take very seriously their duty to provide the American public with quality services,” the lawmakers wrote. “That is why we believe that now, more than ever, it is important to uphold and strengthen the working relationships between federal workers and agency leadership.”

Last month, Trump signed three executive orders on federal workforce issues. The first instructs agencies to streamline the firing process by standardizing performance improvement plans at 30 days in most cases, and to exempt firings and other adverse personnel actions from grievances. Another order seeks to shorten the time it takes to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with federal employee unions, while the third aims to cap union employees’ use of official time at 25 percent of their work hours and restrict the types of activities allowed on official time.

The Republican lawmakers said they fear these actions will erode federal workers’ protections from discrimination, unfair treatment and sexual harassment and “undermine” the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. They encouraged the administration instead to take a more constructive approach to workforce issues.

“Management and labor must work collaboratively to ensure that the workplace is safe, fair and productive,” they wrote. “The federal government is most efficient when these two entities can work together and address challenges and improve the delivery of public services. When such a system exists, the result is agency cost savings.”

The executive orders already are the subject of two lawsuits from federal employee unions. The lawmakers said the federal government should serve as a model for employment practices, and efforts to reduce employee protections will undermine the goal of providing quality services to taxpayers.

“We are concerned that the recent executive orders embark upon a path that will undo many of the longstanding principles protected by law, which establish checks and balances not only in the federal workplace, but for the American public,” they wrote. “We believe that the three executive orders undermine existing labor laws and we ask that you rescind them.”

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