A federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump and his administration from making it easier to fire federal workers and to fulfill the administration’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled on Saturday that President Trump “exceeded his authority” and found that key provisions of three recent executive orders “undermine federal employees’ right to bargain collectively” under federal law.
President Trump issued three executive orders in May, which his domestic policy adviser Andrew Bremberg said would “promote more efficient government” by making it easier to fire poor-performing employees. The first executive order aimed to make a 30-day standard for all performance improvement plans for federal employees.
The second sought to make collective bargaining negotiations more efficient, and the third reduced the number of work hours union members can spend on official time as well as the activities that are eligible for the practice.
Shortly after President Trump passed these three executive orders, lawsuits came flooding in. The most prominent was brought by the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union in the country.
The president of the labor group, J. David Cox Sr., said, “President Trump’s illegal action was a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress specifically guaranteed to the public-sector employees across this country who keep our federal government running every single day.”
And Judge Jackson agreed. “As to the merits of the unions’ contentions, while past precedents and pertinent statutory language indicate that the president has the authority to issue executive orders that carry the force of law with respect to federal labor relations, it is undisputed that no such orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned in the [statute],” Jackson wrote in his ruling. “In this Court’s view, the challenged provisions of the executive orders at issue have that cumulative effect.”
Regardless of whether Trump decides to take this up on appeal, it’s important to understand the core intention of his policies: to fulfill his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” and not waste federal tax dollars on poor-performing employees.