A federal judge has overturned most of the key provisions of the three executive orders affecting federal employees that President Trump signed in late May. Among other changes, one executive order directed federal agencies to renegotiate all union contracts involving federal employees and changed what was to happen when negotiations stall. Another limited the overall length of performance improvement plans to 30 days and constrained appeals. A third restricted the "official time" available to be used for union activities.
In July 2017, the Office of Special Counsel called on all federal agencies to disallow unpaid union official leave when its purpose was for an employee to engage in "partisan political activity." It claimed that allowing leave for that purpose violates the Hatch Act, which limits federal employees' participation in political campaign activities.
A Social Security Administration (SSA) claims representative who also acts as a grievance vice president for his local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has been placed on administrative leave after a protest. Using washable window paint, the man wrote several messages on the windows of a Troy, New York, SSA office building in protest of President Trump's recent executive orders targeting unions.
In late May, President Trump signed three executive orders that purport to make changes to federal workers' rights. One order limited the length of performance improvement plans (PIPs) to 30 days. The second directed agencies to renegotiate all union contracts and changed the way agencies can operate when negotiations stall, among other proposed changes to federal collective bargaining. The third restricts the use of official time for union activities.
On May 25, President Trump signed three executive orders affecting the federal workforce. One limits how much time workers can spend on probation when under investigation for misconduct, thus encouraging firings. Another called for the OMB to renegotiate all union contracts involving the federal workforce and to post those contracts online. A third order attempts to restrict the use of official time spent on union activities by requiring federal workers to spend at least 75 percent of their time on government work and introducing a cap on each bargaining unit's use of official time overall.
Federal employees have been under attack for the last few years. From the extremes of the actual government shut down, to the longer-lasting effects of the sequestration and furloughs, budget cuts, hiring and pay freezes, to the general projection from many politicians and the media that the federal government is too large and too expensive, the outlook for federal employees has rarely been less attractive.
The five stages of grief after a tragedy have been identified as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A federal employee union representative in Washington describes the situation his members are going through as that of a tragedy. Sequestration is the latest in the series of tragedies that have struck federal employees, and is part of a general trend against public employees.