2nd federal union sues Trump administration over workforce executive orders

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The National Treasury Employees Union on Friday became the second major labor organization to sue the Trump administration over the president’s workforce executive orders.

“NTEU believes the president exceeded his authority in several provisions of his executive orders,” union national president Tony Reardon said Friday in a statement.

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The union filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, with President Donald Trump and Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon as defendants.

NTEU’s lawsuit argues two of the three executive orders violate provisions in the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA).

The president’s order on official time, which puts limits on its use among federal employees, conflicts with Chapter 71 of the CSRA, otherwise known as the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, NTEU said.

NTEU argued that Congress consciously left it up to agencies and their unions to agree on amounts of official time that are “reasonable, necessary and in the public interest.” Congress also allowed employees to use official time for any kind of representational work, as long as it doesn’t contribute to the union’s “internal business,” the lawsuit reads.

NTEU is also suing over the president’s executive order on accountability and employee removals. The union again invokes chapters of the CSRA, which established a process for agencies to evaluate an employee’s performance through one or more personnel appraisal systems. Employees must be given a reasonable amount of time to improve their performance before facing a disciplinary action.

The suit argues the president’s order exceeds executive branch authority by calling for a performance improvement period of no more than 30 days.

NTEU typically bargains over the length of employee performance improvement periods, which vary depending on the type of position and agency.

“The idea that these executive orders will make the workforce more efficient, cost-effective to taxpayers and improve the morale of federal employees is absurd,” Reardon said. “Any organization’s success is dependent on a workplace where employees feel valued and respected, and the president’s orders show that in his administration federal workers are neither.”

In an interview earlier this week, Reardon had hinted that his union make take legal action against the administration.

The American Federation of Government Employees filed its own lawsuit in federal district court Wednesday, though it made a different argument than NTEU. AFGE said the president’s official time executive order violates federal employees’ First Amendment right to expressive association and portions of the Federal Service Labor-Management Statue.