President Trump has just issued a series of executive orders that potentially gut federal employee unions’ ability to negotiate with agency leaders and represent workers, as well as reducing the time it takes for an agency to fire people for poor performance or misconduct. I view this as a very good thing. For far too long, government employees have felt safe from repercussions for not working or for misbehaving. This puts an end to that. It looks like President Trump has had it with slackers in the federal government and he’s fixing that. Shape up or ship out.
Trump is billing this as the first step toward broad civil service reform. Three executive orders were issued that are aimed at making it easier to fire poor performers and it orders harsher treatment of union representatives. This step is long overdue and it will go a long way to eradicating corruption in the government ranks. It also sets the powerful unions back on their heels. They will no longer operate like the mafia within our government.
“Today, the President is fulfilling his promise to promote a more efficient government by reforming civil service rules,” said Andrew Bremberg, director of the President’s Domestic Policy Council. “Every year, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows that less than one-third of federal employees believe poor performers are adequately addressed by their agency. These executive orders make it easier to remove poor performing employees, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used.”
The first thing on the agenda is reducing the time it takes to fire poor performers and employees suspected of misconduct by standardizing the length of Performance Improvement Plans to 30 days across the federal government. Right now it varies agency to agency and takes somewhere between 60 and 120 days usually.
“A GAO report shows that it takes six months to a year to remove someone from government, and can often take another nine months on appeal,” an official said. “[This] also encourages agencies to fire someone for misconduct when they’ve been engaged in behavior that warrants it, instead of just suspending them.” Talk about cleaning house. The official said the administration would also make performance a more important factor than seniority when agencies undertake layoffs.
According to DML News:
“The second executive order directs federal agencies to renegotiate contracts with unions representing government employees so as to reduce waste. The anonymous administration official expressed hope that, for example, agencies could stop having to pay expenses on both sides when unions undertake appeals on behalf of fired workers.”
“The third order aims to cut down on “official time,” in which government workers who have roles in the union, like helping colleagues file grievances, are allowed to perform those roles during normal working hours for which they draw their usual salary. (An analogous concept exists for private-sector unions.) The order limits official time to 25 percent of their hours during the year.”
Administration officials said they estimate the changes to labor relations policies could save “at least” $100 million in taxpayer money. That’s very good news. When asked about potential increased costs as a result of the decrease in official time, which is often used to mitigate disputes before a grievance or civil litigation is filed, an official claimed such actions would actually decrease. Again… winning. “Litigations and grievances, we expect those to be reduced quite substantially, although our cost savings estimate doesn’t factor that in,” the official said. “Once those are factored in, the savings would only be increased, not decreased.”
And boy howdy, the unions are ticked over this. American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox said in a statement that the executive orders are a “direct assault” on union members’ legal rights. “This is more than union busting—it’s democracy busting,” he said. “President Trump’s executive orders do nothing to help federal workers do their jobs better. In fact, they do the opposite by depriving workers of their rights to address and resolve workplace issues such as sexual harassment, racial discrimination, retaliation against whistleblowers, improving workplace health and safety, enforcing reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities, and so much more.” Someone get that guy a tissue.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) praised the move in a statement, calling it an important step toward a more effective federal government.”The hallmark of the American civil service is our commitment to hire the best and the brightest to serve our fellow Americans,” he said. “These executive orders strive to make the federal government more efficient, not only for the taxpayer, but for our great federal workers. We have thousands of federal employees who work very hard for the nation; it’s important that their work is not frustrated by the poor performance of a small few.” That’s exactly right. Hire the best and fire those who do not do their jobs.
In a call with the media, AFGE officials said the union will consider all possible actions to fight the executive orders, including litigation. “My lawyers are already looking at what possible violations of the law are contained within the executive orders, and we will take action accordingly,” said AFGE General Counsel David Borer. “We haven’t seen the final version yet, but we’re preparing our analysis and we will respond aggressively.”
Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement said the executive order is not only an assault on unions but on “the nation’s civil service laws. Rather than promote efficiency in the federal sector, the administration is demanding federal workers lose their ability to challenge unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory firings and other actions. This would begin the process of dismantling the merit system that governs our civil service.” No sir, this begins a system that requires government employees to be responsible not only for their work but their actions. It’s part of the Trump Doctrine and a welcome change.