It has been less than a week since President Joe Biden took the oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, but the new administration has wasted no time in making efforts to repair damaged labor-management relations in the federal workforce.
On Day 1, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” In addition to revoking former President Trump’s Executive Order 13950, the new Executive Order directs federal agencies to assess various existing policies and programs for potential “barriers” to underserved communities and individuals and to create plans for addressing and overcoming such barriers.
Also on Day 1, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing.” In an effort to crack down on community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the new EO requires individuals in federal buildings and on federal property to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to CDC guidelines on the coronavirus pandemic. The EO also requires the heads of the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, and the General Services Administration to “promptly issue guidance to assist heads of agencies with implementation” of the EO.
President Biden also made the first welcome change to the composition of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), elevating Member Ernest DuBester to the position of FLRA Chairman. It is expected that in the not-so-distant future, President Biden will also appoint a replacement to Member James Abbott, who is currently serving in a holdover status.
Then, on Friday, January 22, President Biden issued perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Executive Order among federal labor rights advocates. In an “Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce,” President Biden revoked former President Trump’s Schedule F Executive Order (EO 13957) and revoked Trump’s three civil service reform executive orders (EOs 13836, 13837, and 13839) that have been crippling the rights and abilities of federal Unions ever since they came into existence. For agencies that had already taken action to implement the now-revoked EOs, those agencies “shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding, the actions….” President Biden’s EO also restored collective bargaining over permissive topics when contracts are up for negotiation.