Presidential Executive Order Excluding Certain Law Enforcement


12/3/08: NTEU learned yesterday that President Bush issued an Executive Order (EO) pursuant to Section 7103(b)(1) of Title V that excludes thousands of federal employees in various agencies from the collective bargaining provisions of the FSLMRS. That section of the labor statute authorizes the President to exclude agencies or agency subdivisions from coverage of the statute if the President determines that the agencies or subdivisions are primarily engaged in intelligence, counterintelligence, investigative or national security work and the collective bargaining provisions in statute cannot be applied in a manner consistent with national security requirements and considerations.

Although NTEU has received no explanation, briefing, or rationale for the EO from the administration, our reading of the EO is that it excludes approximately 1,600 NTEU-represented employees of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in the Department of Justice from coverage of the FSLMRS, effectively stripping them of their collective bargaining rights. Smaller groups of NTEU-represented employees in the Department of Energy and the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau were also excluded by the EO.

NTEU officials are extremely dismayed at this 11th hour action by the administration, which puts an exclamation point on how poorly federal workers have been treated during the past eight years. ATF employees have enjoyed collective bargaining rights and NTEU representation for decades. We just signed a new collective bargaining agreement with ATF in April of this year. Throughout this time, there has not been one iota of evidence that ATF employees’ participation in decisions about their working conditions through the collective bargaining process is inconsistent with national security. In fact, in that recently bargained agreement, the Director of ATF agreed that employee involvement in the “formulation and implementation of personnel policies and practices affecting their conditions of employment” benefits the “effective administration of government.” And, that language was approved at the highest levels of the Department.

NTEU will pursue all available means to have this action reversed. But this action should also remind us, as if we needed a reminder, how important it is that we not take our rights for granted and that we work to elect public officials who will respect and support those rights.