The Secret Memo: Trump’s Plan to Purge Federal Workers

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

From the beginning, the American people came together to form a government that provides public resources for things that we individually cannot achieve. From scientific and medical breakthroughs to the armed forces, our government and its workforce exist to create safe and thriving communities across the country. No one, for example, can lead a good life and reach his or her potential without having clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, or clean food to eat. Without our government and these shared responsibilities, the American Dream could quickly turn into an American nightmare.

But President Trump sees our government and its workforce as a “swamp” that needs to be drained. Once in office, he set in motion a comprehensive plan to dismantle it. First, he issued a hiring freeze despite severe staffing shortages at many agencies. Second, he appointed people who stand diametrically opposed to the agencies they lead. Third, he cut budgets and staff to make it harder for agencies to accomplish their missions. Then he issued executive orders targeting federal workers and their families.

The Trump administration may not like the “big” government, but they like the shadow government – for-profit contractors who charge the government two to three times more to do the same jobs. They’re already privatizing major parts of the Department of the Veterans Affairs, and other agencies will be next.

A leaked White House memo prepared in 2017 outlines the administration’s plans to fire federal workers through various means. The memo’s seven bullet points explains how they plan to do it:

  • Interpret the Constitution to give the president authority to dismiss any federal employee. The president should issue an executive order to shorten the firing process.
  • Extend the probationary period from one year for most of the government to three years so agencies can fire new hires easily (never mind the time and money spent to hire and train people)
  • Prohibit hundreds of thousands of employees in a “sensitive” position to appeal their dismissal to an independent third party.
  • Change the Douglas Factors, the rules that make sure there is fairness and due process for employees facing discipline, to make it easier to remove employees. Douglas Factors are important because they ensure that the punishment is reasonable and fits the circumstances.
  • Limit the unions’ scope of bargaining to exclude termination appeals and disciplinary action processes, taking away employees’ due process and protections against unfair firings.
  • Encourage and educate managers on how to remove “poor performers.” (Don’t fall for the disingenuous talk of firing “poor performers.” Their real goal is to get rid of most employees, as admitted by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who recently said they’re relocating agency headquarters outside the D.C. area to encourage federal workers to quit).
  • Work with Congress to pass legislation to make it easier to fire federal workers….

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