OPM Sets Date for Restricting Federal Union Activities

Jeff Pon, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), has issued new orders intended to guide implementation of the White House’s recent executive orders relating to federal labor unions’ use of taxpayer-funded time and resources.

In the orders, Pon establishes a firm date by which agencies, according to Federal Times, “will have to take immediate steps to restrict an employee’s use of official time to no more than 25 percent of their total paid time,” as well as ending “the practice of letting employees have free and discounted use of government property – such as computers, cellphones, and conference rooms” for the purposes of union-related business.

The orders go into effect beginning this week, with agencies that have more than 1,000 bargaining unit employees expected to submit “at least one nominee to participate in the Labor Relations Group (LRG) established under the executive orders” by July 13th.

Pon also noted that OPM “is in the process of reviewing the need for new regulations and preparing them for proposal and public comment,” writes Government Executive, with regulations expected to clarify how agencies should approach existing collective bargaining agreements, among other lingering questions.

The three executive orders in question look to significantly reshape the federal use of official time, with the first instructing agencies “to standardize the performance improvement plan at 30 days in most instances and to exempt firings and other adverse personnel actions from grievance procedures.”

The second order “seeks to set time limits on CBA negotiations with federal unions and sets up an inter-agency labor-management relations working group to study existing CBAs and develop best practices and strategies for management to use in negotiations.”

The third order “aims to cap employees’ use of official time at 25 percent of their work hours, restrict the activities allowed under the practice, and cut off unions’ access to agency property and office space.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has combined 15 separate federal union lawsuits challenging the executive orders into one consolidated hearing, scheduled for July 25th.

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