If you’re a bad employee, you should be fired, right? I mean, you’re taking someone’s money to do a poor job at whatever it is that you’re doing. You’ve hit the Peter principle moment, and it’s time to get lost — especially if you’re being paid with taxpayer money. Right?
Well, if you think that way, my naïve friend, let me introduce you to the wonders that are public sector unions.
You see, the job of public sector unions is to protect any employee, no matter how ineffectual they may be in their role. In fact, they could be a teacher and abuse children and you’ll still have a friend in your union officials. Or you can have a VA so incompetent that it had to falsify data and almost nobody got fired. In other words, you don’t have to do your job well — or at all — in order to keep it.
And, unlike in the private sector, the government doesn’t particularly have a whole lot of reasons to negotiate a hard bargain with its workers — especially when it comes to federal employees. It’s essentially the government negotiating with itself, a process which never produces stellar results.
As you may have heard, when it comes to employment security, that’s not exactly how Donald J. Trump doth roll. Before he decided to go with “Make America Great Again,” his catchphrase was “You’re Fired.” Not “You’re fired after multiple disciplinary hearings and a web of bureaucracy that will likely result in you keeping your job or being transferred to another department where someone else has to deal with you, so what I would advise you to do is get in touch with your union rep and see what your options are.” Just “You’re Fired.”
On Friday, the president issued three executive orders that would make it easier for the federal government to do just that when it comes to bad employees. And unions, predictably, aren’t happy about it.
The three orders would “requir(e) agencies to negotiate better union contracts in a more efficient and transparent manner,” cut “spending on taxpayer-funded union activities (that) will ensure Federal employees prioritize work for the American people” and put in place “procedural changes to strengthen the merit system and streamline the removal of poor performers.”
The orders would save American taxpayers an estimated $100 million, according to The Hill.
“Tenured Federal employees have stolen agency property, run personal businesses from work, and been arrested for using drugs during lunch breaks and not been fired,” the order notes.
“It takes 6 months to 1 year to remove a tenured Federal employee for poor performance, plus an average of 8 more months to resolve appeals. Tenured Federal employees are also 44 times less likely to get fired or laid off than private sector workers,” it adds. “The order facilitates the efficient removal of bad employees and makes it hard for those employees to mask adverse employment information when seeking re-employment at another agency, while upholding Federal merit principles.”
The orders also say federal employees are “permitted to spend no more than 25 percent of their time on union business.”
“Over 470 Veterans Affairs employees spend 100 percent of their duty hours working for a labor union instead of serving veterans. This includes 74 full-time nurses,” the order notes.
“To empower our civil servants to best help others, the government must always operate more efficiently and more securely,” Trump said in a statement that accompanied the release of the executive orders.
Administration officials also said they acted via executive order because Congress refused to address the issue.
“The president called on Congress … they haven’t done so yet. In the meantime, the president is using all available tools in the executive branch to come as close as he can,” an unnamed senior Trump administration official said.
So, how did union leaders respond? Wild anger and thinly veiled threats, of course!
“We will see him in court, we will see him in the street, we will see him wherever we can be,” said American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr., according to the Washington Examiner.
Good luck with that “see him in the street” talk. I don’t think the Secret Service is all too keen on donnybrooks with the president in the streets of D.C., even with the president of the largest federal government employees’ union.
Cox also called the reforms “a classic example of this administration’s attack and assault on women, attack and assault on minorities.” Apparently, he’s saying that women and minorities can’t do their jobs well and need special protections in case they steal agency property and do drugs during lunch breaks.
As for how the actual federal employees who were doing their jobs would respond, one administration official probably put it best: “Federal employees are sick and tired of having to carry the dead wood,” they said.
Taxpayers are, too.
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