In the latest of a series of reversals of his predecessor’s policies regarding federal unions, President Biden has revoked a memo from President Trump to allow the DoD to broadly prohibit union representation of certain categories of employees on national security grounds.
A January 2020 memo had allowed the Defense secretary, or any Senate-confirmed political appointee at DoD delegated by the secretary, to make such exclusions in the name of “expedient and efficient decision making” on security related matters.
Union representation already is barred or limited on national security grounds in many DoD intelligence components and other sensitive areas. However, the memo carried the potential for a wide expansion of such bans, since DoD is the largest department and is among the more heavily unionized.
Individual unions representing DoD employees, a coalition of unions and other groups, and a bipartisan group of senators all expressed opposition to the authority, which was never put into practice since it was issued.
The AFGE, the largest union at DoD, said Biden’s action assures that employees there “will retain the right to join a union and bargain collectively for better working conditions, and it is yet another positive step by his administration.”