President Trump issued several Executive Orders when he was in office which impacted federal employees and unions. Among them was an Order to restrict the amount of official time used by federal employees working on behalf of a union. Once President Biden took office, he revoked that Executive Order along with several others by issuing one of his own. Now one Congressman wants to put the official time restrictions back in place.
Congressman Kevin Hern (R-OK) has introduced the Union Accountability Act (H.R. 814) to prevent taxpayer funds from being used to implement Biden’s Executive Order that was issued on January 22, 2021. Hern says that the removal of the restrictions on official time “enables federal employees to spend most of their official time representing unions instead of serving the taxpayer.”
Congressman Hern said in a statement about the bill:
Finding and eliminating wasteful spending is one of my top priorities in Congress. Especially after a year of record spending, we must work to strengthen our economy and efficiently spend taxpayer dollars. Biden’s strategy to reverse any executive action made in the Trump Administration regardless of the impact to our economy has already proven disastrous. Nearly every stroke of his pen has resulted in layoffs and harm to the American worker. President Trump worked to make our government more efficient, which means our workforce needs to be nimble and cost-effective. My bill will prevent a complete reversal of key actions from the Trump White House to limit taxpayer funded union time and simplify the process to remove bad actors in the federal workforce.
Hern also noted in his press release that the Office of Personnel Management reported that bargaining unit employees spent 2.6 million hours in 2019 performing union-related duties at a cost of $163,327,235.21 to taxpayers and that federal agencies spend roughly $16 million per year on salaries for union negotiators.
Although the press release focuses on the official time restrictions, it says it would prevent Biden’s Executive Order 14003 from being implemented which overturned four of President Trump’s Executive Orders that were issued when he was in office. Those were the following:
- Revocation of Schedule F
- Revocation of Executive Order 13836: Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches to Federal Sector Collective Bargaining
- Revocation of Executive Order 13837: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency in Taxpayer-Funded Union Time Use
- Revocation of Executive Order 13839: Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles
In addition to greatly restricting official time, the specific Executive Orders listed above also made changes such as requiring unions to pay rent for federal office space and not be reimbursed for travel expenses or for hours spent appealing worker firings. One of the Orders also made it easier to fire federal employees for performance reasons.
The bill would obviously have major implications for federal employees and unions if it were to pass, however that seems unlikely to happen under the current Congress.