Opposition to Trump anti-worker exec orders mounts

WASHINGTON—Opposition to Republican President Donald Trump’s executive orders trashing the nation’s two million federal workers is mounting. Thirteen more unions went to court on June 13 to sue to overturn them, and 21 House Republicans wrote to Trump to ask him to dump his own edicts.

But in an indication of how much most of the GOP now kowtows to its White House occupant, leaders of the House GOP’s right-wing majority derided the 21 as captives of the feds and their unions.

Trump’s three orders, issued last month, would let bosses judge workers unsatisfactory and give them only 30 days to shape up or be fired, would order federal worker union reps to meet with bosses and solve grievances or bargain contracts on their own time and their own dime, and would “streamline” those contracts by constricting what the unions can bargain about.

One carries out a favorite House GOP cause: Repeal of the civil service law that orders government pay to federal union shop stewards for “official time” spent handling bargaining and grievances.

The two largest federal worker unions, the Government Employees (AFGE) and the Treasury Employees (NTEU), previously challenged two Trump orders in U.S. District Court in D.C. The 13 others, including the Teamsters, the Seafarers, the Machinists and the National Education Association, represent 322,000 workers combined. They want the judges to declare all three orders illegal.

“Defendant Trump has no authority to issue these executive orders either from the Constitution or from Congress,” the unions’ latest lawsuit says. “To the extent the president has such authority, portions of the orders are plainly unlawful, as they conflict with – or seek to impermissibly rewrite – portions of” federal civil service law, without a congressional OK.

“This is a democracy, not a monarchy with a king who can unilaterally eliminate the rights of Congress and federal works,” said Paul Shearon, Secretary-Treasurer of the Professional and Technical Engineers, one of the 13 unions in the new Federal Workers Alliance.

“Trump seeks nothing more than full authority to fire anyone who disagrees with hi or challenges his ideology,” added Alliance co-chair Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees/IAM. He added Trump seeks “to install a culture of fear in the executive branch.”

Meanwhile the Republicans, including Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., who represents a “purple” district in the D.C. suburbs, asked Trump to dump his orders, which he issued literally on the eve of Memorial Day.

“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.”

The lawmakers said Trump’s orders would leave federal workers open to discrimination, favoritism, unfair treatment and sexual harassment on the job.

“Management and labor must work collaboratively to ensure 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 orders also “undermine checks and balances,” they said.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).