The three executive orders Trump issued would reduce the timeframe for firing poor performers, curtail the amount of paid time federal employees can receive for union work and direct agencies to negotiate more restrictive union contracts in a timely fashion.
By signing the orders, the president was “fulfilling his promise to promote a more efficient government by reforming civil service rules,” Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a call with reporters.
“Every year, the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows that less than one third of federal employees believe poor performers are adequately addressed by their agency,” Bremberg said, according to Government Executive. “These executive orders make it easier to remove poor performing employees, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used.”
Unions representing federal workers denounced the orders on Friday, calling Trump’s actions an “assault on democracy.”
J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement that the orders constituted “a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress has specifically guaranteed to the 2 million public-sector employees across the country who work for the federal government.”
“This is more than union busting – it’s democracy busting,” Cox said.
Several Democratic lawmakers also criticized the orders on Friday.
“Attacking unions and demagoguing federal workers won’t help morale,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) tweeted.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called the president’s actions “a cheap political stunt.”
“Federal workers will not be made the scapegoats for this administration’s incompetence and mismanagement,” he tweeted. “These are civil servants trying to serve their country and help others.”