Federal agencies will have to withdraw or undo all ongoing and completed actions they took over the past three years to implement then-President Donald Trump’s anti-union and workforce restructuring executive orders, according to guidance issued by the Office of Personnel Management Friday.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order just two days after taking office rescinding four of his predecessor’s orders that restricted collective bargaining, cut down official time, made federal employees easier to fire and removed some federal positions from civil service protections. Biden’s order relied on OPM to issue specific guidance on how to go about undoing the previous orders.
For the removal of Schedule F, agency heads have been instructed to halt all pending submissions to convert certain positions to the new schedule and to cancel any actions taken under prior OPM approval of such conversions.
Agency leaders have also been instructed to cease all actions related to Trump’s three May 2018 orders to restrict collective bargaining and employee rights, to withdraw all collective bargaining agreement proposals made under those orders and to contact their relevant unions to work on rescinding any implemented provisions under those orders.
The memo requires agencies to take such actions “as soon as practicable” and does not give a firm deadline for when all such removals have to take place.
“While some agencies already have moved to roll back the last administration’s assault on workers’ rights by returning necessary office space to union officials, restoring representational time for union representatives and revising contracts to remove anti-worker provisions, not all agencies have acted promptly,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley in a statement.
“This guidance confirms that all agencies must implement President Biden’s order and OPM’s guidance, and come back to the table to renegotiate contracts that were corrupted by the previous administration’s illegal actions. It’s time to fully restore the rule of law and the rights and protections of federal workers.”
The guidance also goes beyond just undoing the Trump administration’s approach to collective bargaining by instructing agency heads that they will bargain on the “numbers, types and grades of employees or positions assigned to any organizational subdivision, work project, or tour of duty, and the technology, methods and means of performing work,” as protected by federal statute.
“A failure by agency managers to engage in bargaining over the subjects covered by 5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(1) would be inconsistent with the president’s directive. Therefore, in order to carry out the policy decision of the president reflected in the EO, agencies must commence bargaining in good faith over all of these subjects,” acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan wrote in the memo.
“Because bargaining over these subjects has most recently been at the discretion of the agency, it may be a new experience for some management and union representatives, and OPM is available to provide technical assistance to support implementation of this policy.”
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.