Fedweek

An ongoing dispute over executive orders - affecting employee discipline, rights, and union clout - could ultimately wind up before the Supreme Court.

As expected, a group of federal unions has filed a further appeal in a suit challenging three inter-related executive orders issued in May 2018, arguing as before that those orders exceed the President’s authority under federal labor-management law.

The unions had won an injunction from a federal district court against key parts of those orders shortly they were issued. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled last month, though, that the dispute should have gone first to the FLRA, as the administration contended.

The orders aim to speed up disciplinary proceedings, give employees fewer rights in many cases, limit the scope of bargaining, and severely restrict official time, which is on-the-clock time for employees with union roles to perform certain union-related duties.

The administration is to file a response and the court would then decide whether to take the case. According to the court’s own guidelines, requests for reconsideration are granted only rarely; further, the panel’s decision was unanimous. Ultimately, the dispute could be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For the meantime, at least, the lower court’s injunction remains in effect. The appeals court recently refused the Justice Department’s request to lift it while the legal process plays out. A separate challenge recently was filed in a different federal district court.