WASHINGTON – A diverse coalition of labor unions, anticipating future threats to politicize the federal workforce, has joined NTEU in urging the Office of Personnel Management to adopt new regulations that safeguard the merit-based civil service and the Constitutional rights of frontline federal employees.
In comments filed with OPM today, the 14 unions asked the Biden administration to make final its proposal to protect due process for federal employees. NTEU petitioned for the new rules in December 2022 after the previous administration tried to move large numbers of nonpartisan frontline employees out of the competitive service and into an excepted service category, and eventually replace them with political loyalists. OPM released its proposed rule, based largely on NTEU’s petition, in September.
“As NTEU explained in its petition, employees in the competitive service acquire certain statutory rights that cannot be taken away by simply moving the employee’s position into the excepted service. That is because competitive service rights are grounded not only in civil service laws, but in the Constitution as well,” according to the comments filed with OPM.
The labor unions also support OPM’s proposal that certain procedural steps must be followed before any federal positions are converted into essentially at-will jobs. These important steps include reviews by the top agency’s officials and an opportunity for affected employees to respond.
“Today’s comments are a strong show of solidarity among public sector workers from all walks of life and a clear sign that where there is a threat to the civil service in any workplace, workers and their unions will stand together to fight back,” said NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald. “We are grateful that so many respected labor unions have joined the cause to keep our federal agencies staffed with qualified professionals who are dedicated to serving the American people.”
“Schedule F, or anything like it, would be a direct threat to democracy by resurrecting the corrupt spoils system of the 19th century and converting the merit-based system into one of political patronage,” Greenwald said. “The American people deserve to have federal agencies staffed with people who got the job based on merit, swear an oath to the Constitution and carry out their duties no matter which political party holds the White House.”
OPM is accepting comments on the proposed rule until Nov. 17.
NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.