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Bush signs executive order barring union rights for some federal workers

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush issued an executive order [text] on Monday that defined the primary objective of some 8600 federal agency employees to be national security-related, rendering them ineligible for Federal Labor-Management Relations Program [5 U.S.C. § 7101 et seq. text] coverage such as collective bargaining rights. The order says:

The subdivisions of the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, and the Treasury set forth in . . . this order are hereby determined to have as a primary function intelligence, counterintelligence, investigative, or national security work. It is further determined that chapter 71 of title 5, United States Code, cannot be applied to these subdivisions in a manner consistent with national security requirements and considerations.
Among the affected subdivisions are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Department of Energy's Savannah River Operations Office, and certain offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Security Administration, and the US Coast Guard [official websites]. Of the affected federal employees, approximately 900 were affiliated with a union at the time of the order. A representative of the National Treasury Employees Union [advocacy website] said that the collective bargaining groups will work with the Obama administration [NYT report] to overturn the order.

Last year, Bush threatened to veto [JURIST report] an anti-terror bill if provisions allowing Transportation Security Administration airport screeners to unionize were included in the final version of the bill. The Senate adopted a weakened version [JURIST report] in which collective bargaining over working conditions would not extend to pay, TSA screeners would not be permitted to strike during times of emergency, and the government would be permitted to "take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out the agency mission during emergencies, newly imminent threats, or intelligence indicating a newly imminent emergency risk." In 2005, a federal court blocked [NYT report] the Bush administration's personnel rules which would have stripped all Department of Homeland Security employees [JURIST report] of their collective bargaining rights.

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