On the eve of the inauguration of President Trump, federal employees are watching for the imposition of a hiring freeze and cancellation of Obama administration workplace initiatives in the short run and potential changes to basic benefits and due process rights in the long run. The Trump campaign vowed to impose a general hiring freeze–exempting military, health and safety positions, still not defined–within the administration’s first 100 days but there’s a widespread expectation that a freeze will be ordered within a few days. While the Trump campaign did not set a specific workforce reduction target or timeframe, past hiring freeze proposals from Republicans in Congress have targeted a 10 percent reduction over four or five years. Other potential early targets are various Obama administration memos and orders that can be just as easily changed or canceled by a new memo or order. One prime example is the labor-management cooperation initiative; President George W. Bush countermanded a similar Clinton administration program within a month of taking office, although later Bush issued a second order opening the door to continuing those arrangements at the agency’s discretion. Some Obama administration policies on the federal workplace however were issued to comply with changes in law or court rulings, such as those extending spousal benefits in health insurance and retirement to same-sex marriages. Those might be tweaked but could not be fundamentally changed without a change in law or an overriding court decision.
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