Lawmakers Make a Stand for Collective Bargaining

A group of House Members are urging Congress to pass legislation to defend federal employees’ collective bargaining rights.

A group of 217 House Members sent a letter to House leaders urging them to work to protect collective bargaining for federal employees and unions as the appropriations process begins in Congress.

The letter contained some strongly worded descriptions that the lawmakers were using to get their point across. It said that without collective bargaining protections, the Trump administration “will likely succeed in crushing the federal employee unions” and added that the administration is “waging war against ‘official time’, union access to workers, and respect for collective bargaining.”

The letter is the latest in the ongoing battles from all sides over proposals to change the labor relations process in the federal government. It began when President Trump issued executive orders last spring that would have made significant changes for federal employees and union representatives.

The legal battles have been ongoing ever since. As author Ralph Smith wrote recently:

The [Executive] Orders exacted a predictable response resulting in numerous press releases, lawsuits, and several court decisions (so far) on motions and briefs arguing for or against the Executive Orders. The result is that some 15 months after being issued, the Executive Orders that would make changes in the federal labor relations program are still on hold.

So, in effect, the unions are going to court and other arenas to delay the Executive Orders. Agencies are, in some cases, moving out and becoming more aggressive in negotiations in putting restrictions on unions using federal employees working on behalf of the union while continuing to receive their full federal salary and benefits.

Now that we are on the cusp of an election year, the goal of unions and other interested parties looks to be to delay implementation of the changes made by the executive orders as long as possible. That has thus far been successful given that the latest twist in the legal battles is that an injunction was issued that delayed their enforcement. The outcome of next year’s election will likely have a significant impact on where things go next.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.