By Kira Barrett and Sara Luster / Lead image by Pat Ryan
Clad in red, hundreds of federal workers and allies rallied on Wednesday near a federal court in Washington, D.C., where a coalition of unions led a legal effort to protect their bargaining rights.
Drawing inspiration from this spring’s #RedforEd movement, members of the Federal Education Association (FEA) and the National Education Association joined in the #RedForFeds rally on the day of the important hearing, which will determine the collective bargaining rights of federal workers for years to come.
Inside the courtroom, a coalition of 13 unions challenged three Trump Administration executive orders that seek to eliminate bargaining rights for more than 300,000 federal workers who have dedicated their lives to public service, including more than 6,000 FEA members who educate military and Department of Defense families across the world.
The coalition sued the Trump Administration in May for violating the rights of government workers.
“These executive orders seek to silence and intimidate the hard-working employees who have made the D.O.D. school system one of the best performing in the nation,” said H.T. Nguyen, Executive Director and General Counsel for the Federal Education Association (FEA), the NEA affiliate representing Department of Defense schools employees.
“If implemented, these executive orders will create problems, not solve them, and will threaten the stability of the excellent school system our members have helped to build,” said Nguyen.
The first order makes it easier to fire workers, leaving little time for any grievance process. The second significantly reduces “official time” allowed to union representatives, forcing them to use annual leave to deal with grievances, and prohibits using spaces in workplace buildings for union-related meetings. The third order shortens collective bargaining windows and prohibits bargaining on “non-mandatory” subjects.
“Like the hundreds of thousands of educators from West Virginia to Arizona this spring, educators working in Department of Defense Schools are standing up for their rights to have a seat and a voice at the table,” said Lily Eskelsen García, an elementary school teacher and president of the National Education Association.
“If Donald Trump gets his way, these educators will not have a right to advocate for the schools their students deserve,”García said. “We cannot afford to stand by and let Trump trample on our collective bargaining rights. Our military families deserve better than that.”