Defense Secretary Esper Unsure On Starting New Collective Bargaining Rules

Defense Secretary Esper Unsure On Starting New Collective Bargaining Rules

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Wednesday that he was still thinking about his next move that has to do with a recent Presidential order that wants to take away the union bargaining rights of military-civilian employees.

When questioned by lawmakers about its possible impact on the Pentagon’s civilian workers, he said that he had no play in this decision. In a recent memo, President Trump said that he would be giving the Defense Secretary the power to exempt current federal employees and workers in the DoD from federal union bargaining rules. Trump said that national security issues made him take this action.

Trump said that civilian and military leadership needs to manage their respective organizations to make an agile and lethal force that could change in the face of new posture changes and technologies. He argues that the Pentagon shouldn’t be required to reach a compromise with union officials because that could hurt its primary national security duties.

This decision is different from the last use of this authority. The President has so far only used it only for taking rights away from a few components that satisfy the thresholds needed to be classified as national security concerns.

Esper didn’t answer questions that regard the actual validity of said national security concerns. He said that he didn’t of any existing conflicts between the defense leadership and federal union authorities.

He did add that while he can’t see an issue now, it did not mean that there were no issues. He said that he would await a detailed analysis of the situation by his team and make his next move based on the information.

Union employees have spoken out against the plan, saying it to be a major assault on their rights by the administration, which has been criticized by labor organizations all over the country as trying to hinder its collective bargaining & other important union activities.

Everett Kelley, National Secretary-Treasurer of the AFGE said that the proposed new rule was a travesty. The AFGE decried the White House’s use of national security concerns as the reason behind this decision to be a dishonesty to the obligations and oaths sworn by federal employees serving their nation.

Democratic lawmakers also cried these sentiments in their discussions with Esper during his appearance before the HASC.

Rep. Norcross said that workers in the Pentagon could have more troubles due to the decision, which was made quickly.

Federal laws authorize the President to keep any federal agency from union bargaining coverage in case the agency’s primary functions include national security duties, investigation, intelligence, or counterintelligence.

However, the President must determine that these union bargaining requirements were effectively hurting the agency’s ability to tackle national security concerns.

Former Presidents like Barack Obama, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan have all issued such executive orders for exempting specific DOJ and defense workers from being covered by the FSLMR Program.

Esper also lavished praises on defense civilian employees, saying that the administration was reliant on their expertise in many aspects of national security.


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