The Secret White House Memo: Inside Trump’s Plan to Destroy Unions


This is the first segment of AFGE’s 5-part series: The Secret Memo Inside Trump’s Plan to Destroy Unions.

A leaked White House memo, as first reported by the New York Times and then obtained by POLITICO, outlines President Trump’s plans to destroy public and private-sector unions, get rid of worker protections, cripple workers’ ability to organize, and increase profits for corporate special interests.

This explosive 19-page document was prepared in 2017 by Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy James Sherk, who was previously a research fellow at the regressive, anti-worker Heritage Foundation.

The memo, laced with familiar half-truths and outright lies, is proof that AFGE has been right all along in saying that the administration’s true goal in making changes to personnel rules is to “end collective bargaining” in the federal sector. It’s right there in their own words.

Federal workers are featured prominently in this hit piece as the administration’s main target.

  • The memo discusses ways to purge federal unions and end collective bargaining.
  • It discusses steps to dismantle the federal workforce and cut pay and benefits.
  • It has seven bullet points on firing federal employees. The administration is obviously not concerned about making the government more efficient, just how they can more efficiently get rid of career civil servants who have served their country honorably.
  • We also see here the seeds of the President’s union-busting executive orders; several bullet points made it into the EOs. The administration can no longer pretend that the EOs’ purpose is to improve the government. It’s all about destroying unions and civil servants.

Also on the hit list are private-sector workers. Among other things, the memo discusses ways to make it impossible for workers to unionize. It details steps to boost corporations’ profits by cutting workers’ overtime pay and redefining workers as independent contractors. It explains ways to shield mega-corporations from being liable for workers’ poor working conditions in franchises.

The administration’s divide-and-conquer strategy with respect to organized labor is as disgusting as it is shameful. But it won’t work. Across this country, our members and the members of every other labor union are getting educated, organized, and mobilized.

As the largest union representing federal employees, AFGE will continue to resist the President’s mob mentality and disrespect for the federal workforce and the work they do.

Next week we will go into detail of the administration’s plan to end collective bargaining at various agencies, including DoD, VA, and TSA.



Protesting Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin April 27, 2019 /  Photo: WI BOPM

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