As a direct result of our unions leadership in the lawsuit against three union-busting, democracy-busting executive orders, and the resulting injunction we won in court, the Office of Personnel Management has ordered agencies to comply with the judge’s ruling and restore employees’ legal right to representation.
This is a huge victory for AFGE members, all working people, and every American who believes in a functional, efficient civil service.
“AFGE is proud to have led the way in this legal victory for federal employees and the unions that represent them,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “We are continually resolved in our conviction to protect and preserve critical government services and functions for all Americans. We will not let up this fight until all federal employees are given the workplace protections and conditions they deserve.”
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Aug. 24 that the Trump administration’s May 25 executive order on official time violated the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers as established in law by attempting to deny more than 2 million federal workers their legal right to representation.
Some VA facilities immediately restored official time following the court ruling
After Trump signed the executive orders, agencies including the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued similar edicts in an attempt to eradicate unions from the federal workplace and deny workers their legal right to representation. They kicked union reps out of their offices and prohibited them from using official time to fight injustice in the workplace.
After the court ruling, some VA facilities immediately restored official time for union reps and returned them to their union offices. The majority, however, did not, saying they were waiting for guidance from VA Central Office.
Our union’s National VA Council subsequently reached out to VA Central Office requesting reinstatement of official time for all Local union representatives. The central office told the council it was waiting for guidance from OPM.
Before OPM issued its guidance Aug. 29, SSA appeared to be continuing implementation of the EOs despite the court ruling.
At the Department of Defense, after the EOs were issued, there had been a couple of local/agency attempts to roll out parts of the EOs, but it was overall very limited as they had been largely waiting for the outcome of the lawsuits.
Why we need to protect official time
Official time is a practice in which federal managers and employees work together to make government more efficient, productive, and just. All federal employees, whether they belong to a union or not, are guaranteed the right to fair representation. Employees who volunteer to serve as union representatives are allowed certain hours in their work days to carry out those representational activities.
Read more about how official time is used here.
What agencies must do right now
The judge struck down major provisions of the administration executive order on official time. This means agencies are prohibited from implementing the following provisions of the EOs:
Provisions still in effect:
AFGE has a separate lawsuit still pending on two of the EOs: 13,839 Removal Procedures and 13,836 Collective Bargaining. That litigation could have an impact on some of the provisions of those two Executive Orders.
Need more information about our work fighting the illegal EOs? Click here.