Senators Pressure Administration to Comply with Court Order on EOs

Categories: The Insider

Sixteen senators are asking the Trump administration why it’s not complying with a court order that invalidated major provisions of the White House’s executive orders targeting federal employees and their unions. 

They cited reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency that “demonstrate that these agencies have engaged in tactics during collective bargaining negotiations that amount to clear examples of bad-faith bargaining.” 

One of the agencies, for example, sought to eliminate 37 of the 47 articles in the existing contract, including articles regarding telework, alternative work schedule, occupational health and safety, and reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.  

“We write to express our serious concerns that agencies in the executive branch are seemingly ignoring the court order issued by the United States District Court [in August],” the senators wrote to Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Margaret Weichert. “Despite this order, agencies have been slow in rolling back their implementation efforts and have continued to stonewall during collective bargaining negotiations in order to achieve the effects of the invalidated provisions.”

Even though OPM has issued guidance encouraging agencies to fully comply to the court order, it provided no details on what agencies should do about illegal actions already taken to implement the invalidated provisions of the EOs, the senators said.

“Since this time, it has become clear that agencies have failed to adhere to your office’s guidance, and continued with implementation of the invalidated EOs by either resuming their previous efforts or by engaging in bad-faith negotiating tactics during collective bargaining negotiations,” they continued.

The senators asked OPM to response to them by November 16 on what it plans to do. Specifically, the senators want to know: 

  • What action is OPM taking to roll back the EOs that have been implemented at various agencies? 
  • An updated timeline of the actions planned by OPM to bring agencies into compliance with the court order. 
  • Will OPM issue new, specific guidance to agencies on how they should proceed to comply with the court order? If so, what will be in this new guidance and what is the status of this guidance? If not, what is the justification for not taking further action to end illegal tactics being used? 
  • How much oversight has OPM performed to ensure that agencies comply with the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978?  
  • Describe the efforts that OPM has performed to ensure agencies are complying with the executive orders.

“We take our duty to conduct oversight of federal agencies seriously. In order to ensure good labor relations within the Executive Branch, and to avoid labor strife, it is of paramount importance that agencies engage in good-faith collective bargaining and adhere to the relevant civil service statutes,” they wrote.

The signatories of the letter were Senators Brian Schatz, Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Durbin, Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin, Mark Warner, Tammy Duckworth, Tammy Baldwin, Ron Wyden, Tom Udall, Maria Cantwell, Edward Markey, Patty Murray, Amy Klobuchar, and Margaret Wood Hassan.

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