OPM Orders Implementation of Workforce Executive Orders as Injunction Expires

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has authorized agencies to begin implementation President Trump’s 2018 executive orders on workforce management and labor relations. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to hear the union appeal, triggering the expiration of an earlier court injunction against the orders.

In a memo to agencies, OPM Director Dale Cabaniss explained, “On October 3, 2019, the Court of Appeals issued the mandate implementing its decision to vacate the district court’s order. Accordingly, all provisions of these three Executive Orders, including previously enjoined provisions, are in full force and effect and should be implemented consistent with the requirements and guidance contained in the [executive orders].”

The three executive orders are an Executive Order Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches to Federal Sector Collective Bargaining; an Executive Order Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency in Taxpayer Funded Union Time Use; and an Executive Order Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles.

The first executive order directed agencies to renegotiate union contracts and encouraged them to do so in a timely manner.

The second order limited the amount of time employees can spend on union activities, often called official time, to 25 percent of their total time.

The third executive order limited the opportunity period for federal employees to demonstrate acceptable performance, did away with the use of progressive discipline, removed suspension as a suitable replacement when removal is appropriate, and asked that agencies issue decisions on proposed removals within 15 days of the end of the employee reply period.

Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), called the implementation of the executive orders a “sad day for the employees who serve this country” and cautioned that the orders would “severely limit their elected union representatives’ ability to represent them and ensure that our civil service system is based on merit, not favoritism or patronage.”

Reardon has pledged that NTEU will continue fighting against the orders.

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