Washington, D.C. – Four current and former members of Congress, including two who helped write the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, are siding with the National Treasury Employees Union in its lawsuit challenging the president’s anti-labor executive orders.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), former Rep. William Clay Sr. (D-MO) and former Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) filed a legal brief today in support of labor organizations, including NTEU, finding the president’s May 25 orders contrary to existing law and detrimental to the entire federal workforce.
The friend-of-the-court brief makes a powerful statement about growing concern among Democrats and Republicans that the executive orders would upend established norms in labor-management relations and open the door to patronage, which would be a disservice to taxpayers who expect an independent and nonpartisan workforce to deliver important government services.
The four members are committed to a “merit-based, non-partisan, effective federal workforce,” according to their brief, which was filed by consumer watchdog Public Citizen. “These members believe that collective bargaining, the right to representation, and procedures to resolve workplace disputes fairly are vital to such a workforce,” it states.
Cummings is the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and King is chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Clay was chairman of the then-Post Office and Civil Service Committee and Leach was a committee member when they guided the Civil Service Reform Act into law in 1978.
“NTEU is grateful to these four esteemed lawmakers for coming forward to defend our merit-based civil service system,” NTEU National President Tony Reardon said. “And who better to declare that the executive orders violate the spirit of the civil service law than two of the distinguished members of Congress who wrote it 40 years ago?”
The executive orders being challenged would limit the ability of unions to represent employees, weaken due process and restrict collective bargaining at government agencies.
“Today’s brief demonstrates the mounting bipartisan recognition that the president’s three executive orders would unravel four decades of established law and the right for frontline employees to have workplace representation,” Reardon said. “The Civil Service Reform Act is a cornerstone of our democracy and no president should be allowed to override it just by signing a piece of paper.”
NTEU’s lawsuit was recently combined with cases filed by many other labor groups and is scheduled for a hearing in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on July 25.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 32 federal agencies and departments.