Executive Order Trumps Federal Labor Contracts, OPM Says

Federal agencies are being told to make sure that employees who are also union officials spend no more than 25 percent of their work hours on union business.

Collective bargaining agreements that state otherwise are invalid beginning July 9, according to guidance issued July 5 by the Office of Personnel Management. That applies even if agencies and their unions haven’t renegotiated their contracts, the guidance says.

The guidance implements an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on May 25.

Executive Order 13,837 was one of three issued by Trump that day. The other two orders make it easier to fire federal workers and require the government to review its labor agreements for cost savings.

Federal employee unions’ lawsuits challenging the orders were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on June 18. One of the unions’ arguments is that the order limiting “official time”—i.e., time spent by federal employees on union business—violates the workers’ right to freedom of association under the First Amendment.

The lawsuits also allege that Trump didn’t have the authority to issue the order, which they say attempts to make changes to the federal labor relations system put into place by the Civil Service Reform Act and subsequent laws and regulations.

The district court scheduled a hearing for July 25.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louis C. LaBrecque in Washington at llabrecque@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com