The Biden administration has directed federal agencies to take concrete steps to help bolster union membership in the federal government and ensure employees are fully informed of their union rights in the workplace.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM)’s two memoranda directing agencies to promote unionization reflect the president’s executive order 14025, which states that it is the policy of the administration to encourage worker organizing and collective bargaining. The EO highlights benefits of union membership, including higher wages, more employer-provided benefits, a voice at work, and better job security.
“As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government has the unique opportunity to lead by example and serve as a model employer. By supporting the President’s policy in Executive Order (EO) 14025 to encourage worker organizing and collective bargaining, the Federal government is highlighting the positive impact that unions have in all workplaces,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja.
“OPM periodically receives inquiries from federal employees who are unaware they are represented by a labor union or seeking assistance in contacting a union representative in their agency. Therefore, OPM believes that actions can be taken to ensure federal employees are aware of their bargaining unit status, the rights afforded to them under the FSLMRS, and how employees can engage with their union.”
6 Actions Biden Administration Is Taking to Strengthen Your Union Rights in Federal Workplace:
- 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.
OPM included in the memos Frequently Asked Questions and recommended templates for the on-boarding process and FSLMRS rights notice.
About 57% of the non-postal federal workforce, or 1.2 million employees, are represented by labor unions.
The administration announced the new policy at an event led by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and OPM Director Ahuja before a roundtable discussion at the White House.
AFGE thanks Vice President Harris, Secretary Marty Walsh and others on the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment for their unwavering support of America's workers.
“For too long, there has been a concerted effort by corporations and wealthy individuals to prevent working people from organizing and bargaining collectively to better their working conditions and standard of living,” AFGE said. “Indeed, in the past decades we saw this fight play out inside our own federal government – with an attempt to undermine employees’ independent unions and corrupt the apolitical civil service.”
“As workers across the country find their voices, exercise their power, and win transformational victories in a historic month of labor activism, we applaud the steps that the Biden administration is taking today to roll back attacks on labor unions, help federal employees understand their union rights, and support them in exercising those rights.”