OPM has told federal agencies that it is continuing to review federal labor-management relations policies for further potential changes – but that for the meantime, agencies have discretion to follow several practices initiated by the Obama administration and later revoked by the Trump administration.

The memo notes that President Biden in turn canceled 2018 executive orders from President Trump that had restricted the scope of bargaining, official time, free use of agency facilities and equipment by unions, and more. Separately, Trump in 2017 had revoked Obama-era policies for labor-management “forums” and for “pre-decisional involvement,” by unions in certain management decisions.


However, while canceling the other Trump orders in his early days in office, Biden did not explicitly reinstate those two policies. Federal unions have been calling on the administration to do so.

OPM now has said that the 2017 order “currently remains in effect but is under review.” However, it notes that the order “does not prescribe any particular approach to labor-management relations. Accordingly, agencies have discretion under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (5 U.S.C. Chapter 71) to adopt a labor relations strategy best suited to their own needs.”

“OPM believes the establishment of labor-management forums and use of PDI [pre-decisional involvement] can be beneficial and useful to agencies and labor unions. Therefore, if an agency believes establishment of these forums or use of pre-decisional involvement will be productive and elects to use them or some version of them under 5 U.S.C. Chapter 71, the agency is encouraged to do so,” it says.

It added that agencies that choose to follow such practices no longer have to report to OPM on their costs and benefits as was required under the Trump order.

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook