The nation's largest union of federal workers filed suit against the Trump administration on Wednesday over an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that seeks to deny workers the right to job site representation—an established guarantee in existing labor law.
"This is more than union busting – it's democracy busting." —J. David Cox Sr., AFGE president
The lawsuit (pdf) by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), a member of the AFL-CIO which represents approximately 700,000 federal employees, argues that among a slate of anti-worker orders signed by the president last Friday, one of them specifically exceeds the president's constitutional authority and violates the First Amendment right of workers to freely associate.
"This president seems to think he is above the law, and we are not going to stand by while he tries to shred workers' rights," said AFGE national president J. David Cox Sr., in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "This is a democracy, not a dictatorship. No president should be able to undo a law he doesn't like through administrative fiat."
As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Friday, the executive orders signed by Trump last week are "intended to crack down on unions that represent federal employees and to make it easier to fire federal workers."
President Trump’s recent executive orders are an assault on federal employees’ legal rights and protection. Call 202-456-1111 and urge the White House to protect working people. @AFGENational #1u pic.twitter.com/gV4boXgyM1
— DPE (@DPEaflcio) May 27, 2018
Taken together, the orders signed by Trump are designed to limit the amount of on-duty time federal workers can spend on union business, make it easier to fire employees, and compel federal agencies throughout the government to forge less-friendly contracts with unions.
"This is more than union busting – it's democracy busting," Cox said on Friday after the president's signing of the orders was announced. "These executive orders are 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."
In his statement on Wednesday regarding the AFGE's lawsuit, Cox said that Congress has laid out clear workplace labor laws to protect organized federal employees in order "to guarantee workers a collective voice in resolving workplace issues and improving the services they deliver to the public every day – whether it's caring for veterans, ensuring our air and water are safe, preventing illegal weapons and drugs from crossing our borders, or helping communities recover from hurricanes and other disasters."
The lawsuit, he added, shows that federal employees "will not stand by and let this administration willfully violate the Constitution to score political points."