AFGE Outlines Priorities for Incoming Biden Administration

Categories: The Insider

They hollowed out federal agencies. They took away our workplace rights and protections. They attacked the merit systems. They undermined our democracy.  

The past four years has taught us that the White House’s unchecked executive actions could destroy our professional civil service, workplace rights, and democracy. Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we urgently need to reverse the damage and make changes so no future administration can ever threaten their existence again.  

As the Biden-Harris administration is set to take office on Jan. 20, AFGE is eager to work with the administration to repair, restore, and “Build Back Better” Americans’ trust and respect for the federal government.  

Here are our recommendations, as submitted to the Biden-Harris transition team, for the best way to make that happen for the American people:  

4 Things AFGE Is Asking Biden to Do on Day 1 

1. Withdraw the May 2018 Executive Orders (EOs) targeting workers’ rights 

On May 25, 2018, the president issued the three EOs (13836, 13837 and 13839) that seek to undermine workers and their unions. These EOs (1) expedite the process for removing federal employees in performance-based adverse actions; (2) reduce the use of union representational official time governmentwide; (3) reduce the subjects that agencies and unions can negotiate; and (4) arbitrarily impose time limits to conclude negotiations on collective bargaining agreements.  

These EOs also direct agencies to reopen collective bargaining agreements and impose unfavorable terms on federal workers while encouraging agencies to adopt policies that undermine fairness concepts such as progressive discipline, performance improvement plans, seniority, and grievance filings for performance appraisals. The EOs’ results have undermined the ability of labor and management to collaborate to the benefit of the employees and taxpayers and have instead promoted a hostile work environment. 

2. Rescind an EO that politicizes the hiring of administrative law judges 

Trump’s lesser known EO 13843 politicizes the hiring of federal administrative law judges (ALJs) by shifting the impartial and rigorous selection of ALJs from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the agencies themselves, thereby opening the door for political appointees to hire ALJs based on their political leanings rather than their qualifications. ALJ selection process should revert to the objective OPM process under a rigorous timetable of no more than six months.  

3. Rescind the Schedule F EO 

The Schedule F EO issued on Oct. 21, 2020, will negatively affect tens of thousands of federal workers as it allows for political appointees to be embedded into the civil service, opens the door for the dismantling of collective bargaining units, and renders tens of thousands of federal workers at-will employees with no due process protections against unwarranted adverse actions, especially removals.  

4. Remove members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) 

FSIP is part of the Federal Labor Relations Authority and has been used by the Trump administration to impose anti-worker, anti-union agency contract proposals on federal workers. All members of the FSIP should be removed and new members appointed. The president is free to remove and appoint new FSIP members at any time without Senate confirmation.  

9 Things AFGE Is Asking Biden to Do within the First 100 Days 

  1. Appoint members to important labor relations and employee due process independent agencies. 
  2. Direct agencies to avail themselves of interest arbitration, bypassing the cumbersome FSIP process when there’s an impasse. 
  3. Cancel presidential memorandum to the Department of Defense (DoD) that could eliminate collective bargaining rights for DoD workers.  
  4. Instruct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use Chapters 75 and 43 instead of the failed alternative framework created by the VA Accountability Act to deal with employees facing adverse actions or performance issues.  
  5. Affirm the rights of the VA’s Title 38 employees to join and serve their local unions. 
  6. Grant full collective bargaining rights to Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). Put TSOs who are paid at the TSO D, TSO E and TSO F pay bands under the General Schedule pay system. Reopen the collective bargaining agreement with AFGE. Seek a legislative fix to eliminate the footnote in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) authorizing the TSA administrator to develop a separate personnel management system and pay system for TSOs.  
  7. Sign an EO to establish labor management partnerships and forums. 
  8. Sign an EO to protect retirement benefits for disabled federal workers, such as law enforcement officers, customs and border protection officers, and firefighters.  
  9. Direct OPM to rescind new rules that eliminate back pay for overtime disputes and impose an exclusion of unions from eligibility for attorneys’ fees.  

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