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President Biden Signs Executive Orders Protecting Federal Employee Rights

President Biden signs executive orders while Vice President Harris looks on. Photo by Anna Moneymaker for the New York Times
Photo by Anna Moneymaker for the New York Times

On January 22, 2021, before his first week in office ended, President Biden signed an executive order, Protecting the Federal Workforce, that repealed numerous anti-federal employee executive orders issued by his predecessor. Among the orders repealed were three 2018 executive orders that interfered with collective bargaining, nearly eliminated official time to prevent unions from representing federal employees, and prioritized employee firings and discipline. The new executive order also repealed Schedule F, which was created last October in an attempt to politicize the civil service.

AFGE Local 476 applauds President Biden for his new executive order, which begins: "Career civil servants are the backbone of the Federal workforce, providing the expertise and experience necessary for the critical functioning of the Federal Government. It is the policy of the United States to protect, empower, and rebuild the career Federal workforce. It is also the policy of the United States to encourage union organizing and collective bargaining. The Federal Government should serve as a model employer."

President Biden also reversed President Trump’s ban on the use of federal funds for diversity and inclusion training programs for federal employees and the employees of federal contractors.

Among the changes ordered by President Biden was the revocation of Trump's prohibition against the settlement of individual workplace disputes through adjustments to an employee’s personnel file. Such changes often were used to the advantage of both parties in order to quickly settle matters such as unfair reprimands and claims of discrimination or retaliation that would otherwise have involved lengthy and costly cases before administrative judges, the Merit Systems Protection Board or the EEOC, and federal courts.

AFGE National thanked the President for taking swift and decisive action to protect the federal workforce, noting that the repealed 2018 executive orders "were a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress has specifically guaranteed to the 2 million public-sector employees across the country who work for the federal government."

AFGE President Everett Kelley said, "This is a new day of hope for federal workers, our union, and the American people we serve," commending President Biden’s restoration of "workplace rights and protections for federal employees, along with his commitment to partner with labor unions."

AFGE Local 476 hopes that this signals a new, positive relationship with HUD's management and looks forward to working with the new administration.