OPM Instructs Agencies to Comply With Court Decision on Workforce Executive Orders

Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon said the agency would “fully comply” with a court order issued Friday. Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon said the agency would “fully comply” with a court order issued Friday. OPM photo

The Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday issued guidance instructing agencies to roll back any already implemented provisions of President Trump’s controversial workforce executive orders that are in violation of a recent court decision that found the meat of the orders to be unlawful.

In a memo to agencies, OPM Director Jeff Pon indicated his agency would “fully comply” with a court order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson over the weekend invalidating key pieces of three executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire federal workers and reducing the influence of unions at federal agencies.

In her ruling, Jackson wrote that the orders effectively “eviscerate the right to bargain collectively” at federal agencies, in violation of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, which describes collective bargaining as “in the public interest.” Jackson said that the orders, which in part set arbitrary limits on the length of collective bargaining, the scope and amount of official time for employees and removed adverse personnel actions from grievance procedures, essentially instructed agencies to bargain in bad faith.

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In light of the decision, Pon rescinded the portions of guidance he issued in July on how agencies should implement the executive orders that corresponded with provisions enjoined by the court ruling.

“[OPM’s] guidance of July 5, 2018, that was circulated . . . and that relates to the provisions of the orders that were enjoined should be considered rescinded,” he wrote. “OPM guidance relating to the still effective provisions remains in place.”

Pon wrote that OPM will collaborate with the Justice Department to “evaluate next steps” in the court case.

In a statement Wednesday, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox said the union will continue to push to make sure agencies return their workforce policies to as they were before the executive orders were issued.

“AFGE is proud to have led the way in this legal victory for federal employees and the unions that represent them,” Cox said. “We are continually resolved in our conviction to protect and preserve critical government services and functions for all Americans. We will not let up this fight until all federal employees are given the workplace protections and conditions they deserve.”

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