Appeals court rules for Trump in fight over federal worker restrictions

Appeals court rules for Trump in fight over federal worker restrictions
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A federal appeals court handed President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE a legal victory Tuesday when it ruled against labor unions representing government workers in their fight with the administration over workplace rules.

The unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a district court ruling last year that struck down key aspects of three executive orders. The provisions in question curtailed civil service protections and made it easier for employers to fire workers and weaken their union representation.


More than a dozen unions representing federal employees challenged the executive orders, which impact roughly 2.1 million civil servants, arguing they violated a 1978 law on collective bargaining.

The circuit court ruled that the unions must first pursue their claims through an administrative process before turning to the legal system, and that the district court’s ruling lacked jurisdiction.

“We reverse because the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith in the 3-0 decision.

The ruling did not address the unions’ underlying claims about the executive orders, but instead said the district court “had no power to address the merits of the executive orders” and that the plaintiffs first should have gone to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the agency tasked with judging federal labor disputes.

“Although the unions are not able to pursue their preferred systemwide challenge through the scheme, they can ultimately obtain review of and relief from the executive orders by litigating their claims in the context of concrete bargaining disputes,” the circuit court wrote.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown, an Obama appointee, ruled in August that the Trump administration could not restrict the amount of on-duty time that union officials are able to use to represent their members. The executive orders also sought to trim down the issues that could be negotiated in union discussions and limited the rights of workers to appeal disciplinary action if their performance had been deemed poor.

If the unions continue to pursue their case in the courts, they could ask the full D.C. Circuit to reconsider the decision from the three-judge panel or ask the Supreme Court to review the case.

“On the merits of this case, the Appeals Court said absolutely nothing to contradict the analysis of Judge Jackson’s lower court ruling, which found the Executive Orders altogether unlawful,” Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, told The Washington Post.

“In our view, these Executive Orders violate the law, and we are going to continue to fight them until we get a decision that sticks,” he added. “This Appeals Court decision does not change the fact that the Trump Administration severely overstepped its authority.”