Thanks to the election of Joe Biden as U.S President, there is a new sheriff in town — particularly when it comes to unions in America. From the beginning of his presidency, Biden issued executive orders revoking Trump-era executive orders that limited union organization and sided with management and big business.
Willie Haywood Jr., National Veterans Affairs Council 262 Sixth District President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss changes under the Biden administration and their effects on unions. He also discussed staffing efforts at the Veterans Administration, as management struggles to deal with ongoing shortages.
Biden rescinds Trump’s orders
Soon after Biden took office, he issued Executive Order 14003: Protecting the Federal Workforce. It revoked Trump-era executive orders the Biden administration claims weakened the protections of the federal civil service and collective bargaining activities.
The executive order specifically reversed rules that limited collective bargaining efforts and streamlined the discipline and dismissal processes for poor-performing federal employees.
These rules significantly hampered unions, Haywood said. Unions had to find creative ways to represent members and fight for their rights, he said.
Under the Trump administration, federal employees could be fired off the bat, Haywood said. Biden has instituted rules that grant the employee reasonable time to improve.
Biden’s changes improve morale and boost union membership
AFGE member morale has improved since President Biden took office, Haywood stated. Union growth has picked up considerably as well. Organizing efforts over the last year have broken records, Haywood reported.
Members can now attend and hold meetings on a more regular basis. AFGE representatives may now be present during employee orientation at VA medical centers, which has significantly improved recruiting efforts, he said. The AFGE is able to let new employees know there is a union as well as what their rights are, he explained.
Staffing shortages at the VA continue
Haywood also discussed hiring efforts at the VA, which remains particularly understaffed. Unfortunately, not much has changed on that front. To more efficiently get the best people, there must be changes in the credential checking process of applicants.