The largest federal workers union isn't expecting anything from President-elect Donald Trump that the union—together with the federal workforce, its allies in Congress and the U.S. public—won't be able to handle, according to the union's president.
A proposal from the president-elect for a federal hiring freeze, with exceptions for positions that affect the military, public safety or public health, isn't that different from those put forth by previous presidents, J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told reporters Dec. 7.
For example, he said, President George W. Bush in January 2001 called for a temporary freeze on federal hiring.
A hiring freeze will be tough to implement, the AFGE president said. Other new presidents have reversed themselves or allowed freezes to lapse after hearing from the public about the impact on government operations, he said.
The AFGE may face a battle next year in protecting federal workers’ pay and benefits. But the union has been through the process of adjusting to Republican administrations before. The AFGE has seen many different political environments in Congress over the years, and has relied on its allies—both Democrats and Republicans—to protect the federal workforce, Cox said.
‘Unpredictability' Is Wild Card
What's different this time, Cox said, is Trump's “unpredictability” and lack of government experience.
“Running the government is not like running a private corporation,” Cox said.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence understands that there are “lots of checks and balances” in government and hopefully will provide that perspective, Cox said. But the union is wary of Pence's voting record on federal employee issues during his 12 years in the U.S. House and his political record as governor of Indiana.
Even so, the AFGE expects “more nibbling than wholesale change” on federal labor relations issues next year with the new administration and the 115th Congress, Cox said.
There likely will be renewed interest in legislation to cut back on “official time”—paid time for federal employees who perform union representational work for bargaining units in lieu of their regularly assigned work.
Some in Congress also may seek to restrict federal employees from choosing automatic union dues deductions in their government paychecks, Cox said.
But these types of issues have received attention in the past without changes to the laws governing federal labor relations, he said. “We've regularly seen these pieces of legislation introduced,” Cox said.
Increase in Union Membership
According to Cox, the AFGE saw a net gain of more than 1,200 members in November, bringing its membership to 309,180 as of Nov. 30.
The union needs about 5,000 new members each month “just to stay even,” he said.
Federal employees leave government, retire, or move to other agencies and don't keep up their union membership, he said. This makes the increase in membership even more remarkable, Cox said.
The AFGE, which represents about 670,000 federal and District of Columbia government workers, announced on Oct. 26, 2015, that it had reached the 300,000-member mark. This means the union has gained a total of 9,180 dues-paying members since that time, or an average net gain of about 765 new members each month.
Agreement on Entitlements, Trade
The president-elect's views aren't all in opposition to those of unionized workers, Cox said.
For example, Trump bucked the Republican Party during the primaries by saying he “would not touch” Social Security and Medicare, Cox said. The union will ensure that the president-elect doesn't renege on this pledge, Cox said.
Trump also vowed to revisit trade deals that have hurt U.S. workers, a stand that the AFGE, an AFL-CIO affiliate, supports.
“We are ready to applaud new and better trade deals,” Cox said.
Bloomberg Law® helps labor and employment law practitioners provide rapid, accurate and complete advice to clients by bringing together trusted, market-leading Bloomberg BNA content like Daily Labor Report® and treatises like Covenants Not to Compete: A State-by-State Survey and The Developing Labor Law, with a fully integrated, innovative legal research platform. Click here to request a free trial.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)