The Secret Memo: How Trump Plans to End Collective Bargaining in Government

Categories: The Insider

This is the second segment of AFGE’s 5-part series: The Secret Memo: Inside Trump’s Plan to Destroy Unions.

Unions are a cornerstone of our democracy and middle class. As a government employee union, we work hard to make sure that federal workers are treated fairly so that they can focus on serving the American people. Happy employees are good for business, the government, and the American public. That’s why Congresses and administrations have for decades enacted laws and implemented policies that protect federal employees’ rights to bargain collectively.

But the Trump administration sees unions as enemies to be wiped out.

A leaked White House memo outlines President Trump’s plans to purge government unions and end collective bargaining in the federal government. Here’s what one bullet of that memo says exactly:

“End collective bargaining. (EO/DOD) Government unions impede the efficiency of federal operations and direct the government to put the interests of government employees first. Curtailing collective bargaining in government serves the public good. The [Civil Service Reform Act] allows the President to exempt agencies from its coverage on the basis of national security concerns.

  1. POTUS should issue an EO exempting DOD from collective bargaining.
  2. Explore the possibility of adding VA to this list. Possibly parts of DHS, State, and OPM.
  3. The TSA administrator should cease collective bargaining with security screeners.”

The administration has since issued governmentwide anti-federal worker policies, including three hostile executive orders, under the guise of reform. The leaked memo, however, revealed the administration’s real goal and confirmed what we already know: they want to get rid of unions and federal workers.

VA workers, for example, are being hit hard by new policies that took away their workplace rights, prompting AFGE and other unions to file lawsuits. The VA and our union’s National VA Council are currently negotiating a new collective bargaining contract, but the VA is trying to get rid of most if not all workplace protections and is now negotiating in bad faith, prompting the council to file a national grievance. In addition, a recent book by Secretary Shulkin claims President Trump even mulled an executive order shuttering parts of the VA.

For OPM, the administration is trying to blow it up altogether in what would be a disastrous move for workers and the apolitical civil service as we know it. The administration wants to dismantle the central personnel agency and merge parts of it with the General Services Administration (GSA) while moving other functions under political appointees at the White House in the Office of Management and Budget, all with no legal analysis to support these moves. Our union and OPM are in contract negotiation, and the administration is once again floating anti-worker proposals.

DoD is maintaining the status quo for now, but it’s only a matter of time before the administration will try to implement the anti-worker executive orders.

The Transportation Security Administration, which is part of Homeland Security, has issued a new workplace guideline that took away even more workplace rights from TSA officers – the very people who had to work 35 consecutive days without pay due to the Trump shutdown earlier this year. TSA officers are among the lowest paid employees in the federal government and have one of the highest turnovers – one in four officers quit within six months. TSA spent $16 million to hire and train those workers.

Other agencies are being hit with the same anti-worker policies and mob mentality.

Next week we will discuss what the administration’s secret memo reveals about their plan to cut federal workers’ pay, retirement, and benefits.

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