2021 was a year like no other. We got a new president who supports government workers and government workers’ missions protecting and providing services to the American people. We faced (and are still facing) a public health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 800,000 Americans, including many government employees. We watched in horror when the U.S. Capitol – and our democracy – was attacked by a mob seeking to overturn a legitimate, democratic election.
As the year comes to a close, we’d like to celebrate our members’ and staff’s perseverance and fighting spirit and revisit crucial moments that define who we are as unionists.
Take a quick look at the highlights of our work defending our voice on the job and in the middle class. We all should be proud of the work we are doing as one union -- AFGE!
1. Repeal of Trump’s anti-worker executive orders
Presidential candidate Joe Biden had promised AFGE that he would repeal Trump’s May 2018 anti-worker executive orders aimed at eliminating collective bargaining, due process, and workplace representation rights for federal employees. President Biden rescinded the EOs three days after taking office.
2. Replacement of Trump-appointed impasses panel
President Biden fired the Trump appointed 10 positions on the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). He replaced them with highly qualified individuals who will rebuild the reputation of the embattled panel.
FSIP had been used by the Trump administration to impose anti-worker, union-busting agency contract proposals on federal workers. AFGE had called on the Biden administration to remove FSIP members and appoint new ones.
3. Trump-era contracts
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) directed federal agencies to engage with unions and to reopen and renegotiate Trump-era contracts that have anti-worker provisions.
4. Major benefits for federal workers in a new COVID relief bill
These benefits included 15 weeks of emergency paid leave, an automatic presumption of workplace illness for front-line federal employees who contract COVID-19 on the job, funding to protect feds against COVID at work, a third round of stimulus payments worth up to $1,400 per person, and $2.3 billion in fiscal relief for D.C.
5. New member and general counsel at the FLRA
President Biden nominated two important positions at the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), bringing to an end the Trump-appointed majority at the labor board. President Biden nominated Susan Tsui Grundmann as a member of the three-member FLRA and Kurt Rumsfeld as FLRA General Counsel. Biden also nominated Ernest DuBester, who serves as the chair of the FLRA, for a second term in that same position. The General Counsel position was left vacant the entire Trump administration, leaving federal workers in limbo since the FLRA could not prosecute agencies that violated their own polices and labor laws. While we are encouraged by the President’s choices, their nominations are still pending in the U.S. Senate.
6. Repeals of Trump’s Schedule F executive order
President Biden repealed Trump’s Schedule F executive order which permitted the Trump administration to hire and fire federal employees for political reasons.
7. More worker rights and higher pay for TSA officers
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas exercised the discretion that the law gives to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a positive direction, telling the TSA administrator to expand collective bargaining rights for TSOs, provide them with third party appeal rights at the MSPB, and change the pay system for TSOs so that it resembles the General Schedule (GS) locality system – all elements of the legislation we have continued to urge Congress to pass.
As of Sept. 26, TSA officers have had broad appeal rights under the MSPB. Under a new agreement between TSA and MSPB, TSA officers are able to appeal covered adverse actions— like removals, lengthy suspensions, and demotions— to the MSPB.
8. Keeping our members safe during the public health crisis
Our union has worked with agencies to develop health and safety measures to protect federal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also successfully negotiated maximum telework programs at various agencies, including the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.
9. A worker-friendly workplace
The Biden administration has taken steps to strengthen employees’ union rights in the workplace. The administration directed agencies to:
- Include in all job announcements whether the position is a bargaining unit position
- Include in all job announcements for bargaining unit positions the name and local number of the union that represents that position
- Involve unions in the new employee orientation process
- Provide new bargaining unit employees with information on their workplace rights under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS) during new employee orientation
- Provide this FSLMRS information to employees on a quarterly or biannual basis
- Highlight employees’ rights to join a union and include union contact information in any notification to employees regarding their rights under the FSLMRS.
10. Repeal of a ban on diversity training
President Biden reversed Trump’s ban on the use of federal funds for diversity and inclusion training programs for federal employees and the employees of federal contractors.
Want more wins like these?
Join AFGE and ask your coworkers to join AFGE.