Court delivers 'tremendous blow to federal workers' with decision to uphold Trump's anti-union executive orders

Court delivers 'tremendous blow to federal workers' with decision to uphold Trump's anti-union executive orders
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 610456439 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers and supporters protest job cuts during rally in Chicago, Illinois, March 2, 2017.

Unions representing hundreds of thousands of federal employees on Tuesday vowed to fight a federal appeals court ruling in which a three-judge panel unanimously upheld President Donald Trump's executive orders attacking workers' rights.


The U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit said that it lacked jurisdiction to block Trump's orders, which made it easier to fire federal employees, limited the amount of time workers can spend on union business, and compelled federal agencies to devise unfavorable contracts with unions.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 700,000 of the 2.1 million federal employees affected by the orders, said it would fight the court's decision "using every legal tool available to us."

"Today's terrible decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is a tremendous blow to federal employees and their voice in the workplace," said AFGE President J. David Cox. "The union-busting framework laid out in the executive orders and the actions already taken at the bargaining table so far demonstrate clearly that there must be a check on the president's power to destroy federal employees' union rights."

The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and the AFGE union representing EPA workers echoed Cox's statement.

"In our view, these executive orders violate the law, and we are going to continue to fight them until we get a decision that sticks," NFFE President Randy Erwin told the Washington Post. "This appeals court decision does not change the fact that the Trump administration severely overstepped its authority."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also expressed solidarity with the federal workers' unions.

The court's decision reversed a lower court ruling from last year which had struck down Trump's orders. More than a dozen federal employee unions sued the Trump administration last year when the executive orders were announced, arguing that they blatantly violated a decades-old law affirming that workers have the right to collective bargaining.

"This is more than union busting—it's democracy busting," Cox said at the time.

As Lisa Rein of the Post pointed out, the appeals court ruled only that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on the orders, not on the merits of Trump's actions.

But while the court advised the unions to appeal to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Reins noted on Twitter that "agency's ruling[s] have been uniformally anti-union thus far under Trump."

Rein reported Tuesday afternoon that the unions were discussing the case with their attorneys, and could either ask the appeals court to hear their arguments again or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.