President Trump signed a trio of executive orders last week that make it easier for the federal government to fire poor performing employees.
The initiatives make it easier to discipline poor performing employees and speed up decision time on their discipline, or if warranted, their removal. They would also create a federal “Labor Relations Working Group” to more effectively negotiate collective bargaining agreements with labor unions.
The third executive order limits the amount of time federal employees can spend on union activities. “Federal employees should spend the clear majority of their duty hours working for the public,” the order reads. It also limits the activities, supplies and facilities used for union purposes that can be expensed.
The orders, the President says, are meant to put taxpayers first. “To empower our civil servants to best help others, the government must always operate more efficiently and more securely,” Mr. Trump said.
“Every year the federal employee viewpoint survey has consistently shown that less than one-third of federal employees believe that poor performers are adequately addressed by their agency,” White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council Andrew Bremberg said in a statement.
“These executive orders will make it easier for agencies to remove poor performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used.”
Federal labor unions criticized the orders.
“This is more than union busting – it’s democracy busting,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “These executive orders are a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress has specifically guaranteed to the 2 million public-sector employees across the country who work for the federal government.”
“Our government is built on a system of checks and balances to prevent any one person from having too much influence. President Trump’s executive orders will undo all of that. This administration seems hellbent on replacing a civil service that works for all taxpayers with a political service that serves at its whim,” Cox added.
The AFGE subsequently announced it was suing the Trump administration over the changes. The orders, they say, violate the First Amendment right of workers to freely associate.
“This president seems to think he is above the law, and we are not going to stand by while he tries to shred workers’ rights,” Cox wrote in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “This is a democracy, not a dictatorship. No president should be able to undo a law he doesn’t like through administrative fiat.”
Photo by AFGE