A new poll indicates that, despite government union opposition, a slight majority of government workers actually support President Trump’s executive orders on civil service reform.
Several weeks ago, President Donald Trump angered government union leaders by issuing three executive orders than, according to the Washington Post, rolled back “civil-service protections that federal employees have enjoyed for a generation, making it easier to fire poor performers, curtailing time employees can be paid for union work and directing agencies to negotiate tougher union contracts.”
Trump’s action immediately drew fierce reaction from government unions, which have since filed lawsuits and called the actions an attempt to “undermine our democracy and usher in the spoils system.”
However, despite the union rhetoric, a new poll conducted by the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive Media Group, shows that a slight majority (51%) of federal government workers actually “support or strongly support” making it easier to fire bad performers.
Using Tax Dollars To Conduct Union Business
The real union opposition to Trump’s executive orders may not be the easing of job protections for federal workers, however.
Rather, the unions’ opposition seem to be the curbing of unions’ use of “official time,” which is the conducting of union business while on the federal clock, as well as the unions’ now having to pay rent for the office space it uses, according to Government Executive
The largest union representing federal employees sued the Trump administration Wednesday over President Trump’s executive order significantly curbing the use of official time by union representatives, arguing the edict violates the First Amendment and exceeds the president’s constitutional authority.
In a lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the American Federation of Government Employees said the White House’s Executive Order Ensuring Transparency, Accountability and Efficiency in Taxpayer Funded Union Time Use violates the First Amendment-guaranteed freedom of association and effectively rewrites portions of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act without the assent of Congress.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order instructing agencies to no longer allow union officials to spend more than 25 percent of their work hours on official time, a practice where union federal employees are compensated for performing representational duties. The order also stipulated that unions not be able to use official time to lobby Congress or to represent employees who have filed grievances or are appealing adverse personnel actions.
The executive order also said that unions must pay rent for the use of federal office space and that agencies should stop covering official time-related travel expenses.[Emphasis added.]
Although most unions in the private sector use their union dues to conduct union business, as well as have union halls from which the union can operate, government unions have not had to conduct themselves in the same manner as their private-sector counterparts.
Although the actual cost of government unions doing union business on taxpayers’ dime has been difficult to track, according to the Federal Times, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently reported “the federal government’s 1.2 million ‘bargaining unit’ employees spent a total of 3.6 million hours performing duties under official time in 2016.”
While the estimate of $174 million spent doing union business may not seem like a big deal when compared to the much larger federal budget, it is a big deal to government unions if they now have to spend their members’ dues money on representation instead of, say lobbying, for example.