Union Files Injunction to Stop Workforce Executive Orders

By Sebastian Duda / Shutterstock.com

The nation’s second largest federal employee union has filed an injunction to prevent the implementation of two of President Trump’s recent executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire poor performers and curbing the ability of employee groups to represent federal workers.

The National Treasury Employees Union on Friday filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the orders governing official time and streamlining the firing process from going into effect until the resolution of the union's lawsuit.

Earlier this month, NTEU challenged the legality of two of the administration’s three recent orders, arguing that they violate provisions of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. Last week, the union also amended its complaint to move the suit from the Eastern District for Virginia to D.C. and added a section regarding the orders’ impact on established grievance procedures.

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Last month, Trump signed three executive orders on the federal workforce. The first required agencies to standardize the length of performance improvement plans at 30 days in most cases, and it excluded some types of agency decisions from appeals. The other two sought to shorten the time it takes to negotiate collective bargaining agreements and cap the amount of official time, where union officials are compensated for work on employee representational matters, at 25 percent of an employee's hours.

In its injunction request, NTEU argued that the implementation of the executive orders should be halted because they would cause “irreparable injuries” to the union and the employees it represents. The document specifically highlighted how the orders instruct agencies to renegotiate existing collective bargaining agreements, in some cases well before they are scheduled to expire.

“NTEU’s bargaining power will be diminished significantly and in ways that are contrary to the collective bargaining scheme that Congress carefully created [in current law],” the union stated. “To conform to the executive orders, federal agencies shall force upon NTEU contractual provisions that are inconsistent with federal statute, but required by the illegal executive orders. The executive orders further compel agencies’ rejection of NTEU’s contractual proposals that are consistent with federal statute, but not the illegal executive orders.”

In a statement, NTEU National President Tony Reardon said the executive orders revoke a number of due process rights guaranteed to federal workers in the Civil Service Reform Act.

“Our union has 80 years of experience defending the men and women of the U.S. civil service, and this motion shows we take seriously our role in making sure that the frontline employees all over the country are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” he said. “Federal employees should not lose their lawful rights granted by Congress at the president’s misguided stroke of a pen. No harm can come from leaving the current collective bargaining system in place while the legal challenges against the orders are processed.”

The American Federation of Government Employees also sued the Trump administration to invalidate the workforce executive orders last month. In addition to arguments similar to those raised by NTEU, AFGE said that the orders infringe on its First Amendment freedom of association.

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