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Trump Has Attacked Federal Unions In The Past, ‘But Now - For The First Time, He’s Trying To Bust One’

Published Tuesday, January 21, 2020
by Joe Davidson/The Washington Post
Trump Has Attacked Federal Unions In The Past, ‘But Now - For The First Time, He’s Trying To Bust One’

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Republican President Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on Federal Unions to a new levelFor the first time, the Trump Administration is seeking to bust a Union - the National Association of Immigration Judges, by declaring that its Members are managers ineligible for Labor Organization Membership.  It’s tantamount to decertification.

A possible change in the Judges’ status from Staffers to Managers raises another issue beyond Union Membership: Should Judges be part of the Justice Department, the Law Enforcement Agency whose cases the Judges consider?

Making Immigration Judges part of the department’s management could politicize their role during a period when Trump’s aggressive immigration practices are among his more controversial policies.

This case intensifies a series of administration actions designed to undermine Federal Labor Organizations.

The most notable of those occurred in May 2018 when Trump issued three Executive Orders that hit Federal Unions by, among other things, making it harder for Union Leaders to organize, represent Employees and use agency facilities.

Arguments from both sides of the attempted Union Busting are now being considered by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), a small independent agency that resolves Federal Labor-Management Disputes.

Two of the three authority members are Trump appointees.

Justice Department officials say the Judges are essentially Management Officials “and should be excluded from a Bargaining Unit” in papers filed with the authority.

The department is fighting history, hoping it does not repeat.

In 2000, when Bill Clinton was President, the authority considered the same issue and, as the administration’s brief acknowledges, “determined that Immigration Judges are not management officials.”

So why re-fight a lost battle?

Justice Officials now contend that decision “was wrongly decided” and has been undermined by changes in the law that affect Immigration Judges’ decisions.

Administrative decisions and Federal Court rulings since the authority’s 2000 decision, according to Justice, significantly influence “the ability of Immigration Judges to determine, formulate, or influence policy of the Agency,” rendering them more management than labor.

A decision by an Immigration Judge, the brief added, “commits or binds the Agency to a course of action,” a characteristic of management.

Currently there are 465 Immigration Judges, the most ever, according to the department.

The association, however, says not only have the Judges’ duties not changed since the earlier decision, but they are “less able to influence policy” than they were then.

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