The Foreign Service Journal, May 2021

AFSA NEWS 68 MAY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Biden Administration Issues Workforce Protection Guidance AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, March 17, 2021 National Museum of American Diplomacy: The Governing Board approved a motion to spon- sor NMAD’s “Go Abroad” film. Membership Committee: The Governing Board approved the application of one new associate member. Congressional Policy Priorities: The Governing Board approved adding support for the following pieces of legislation to AFSA’s list of policy priori- ties for the 117th Congress: the Foreign Service Families Act; the Department of State Student Internship Program Act; the Lavender Offense Victim Exoneration (LOVE) Act; the Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Law Enforcement Protec- tion Act; and a bill to provide for the appropriate balance between empowering diplomats to pursue vital diplomatic goals and mitigating security risks at U.S. diplomatic posts. n Several weeks after Presi- dent Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14003, “Protecting the Federal Workforce,” the Office of Personnel Management issued guidelines instructing federal agencies on how to implement this policy. Biden’s executive order rescinds EOs issued by the Trump administration, which had made it easier to fire federal workers, restricted collective bargaining and significantly limited the use of official time—the practice of allowing federal workers who are union representa- tives to use government time when, for example, negoti- ating collective bargaining agreements and represent- ing union members in griev- ances and investigations. In addition, EO 14003 directs agencies to “bargain over permissible, non-man- datory subjects of bargain- ing when contracts are up for negotiation.” “We’re serious, and the president is serious, about resetting labor-management relations, and the executive order issued on Day 3 [of the administration] is very clear, and we wanted the guidance to be true to that,” an official told Government Execu- tive , a government business publication. “We are genuine when we say we want to engage with federal workers and union representatives as partners as we tackle the challenges we’ve got to deal with in the government,” the official added. EO 14003 notes that “career civil servants are the backbone of the Federal workforce” and that “it is the policy of the United States to protect, empower and rebuild the career Federal workforce.” The EO also says it is the “policy of the United States to encourage union organizing and collective bargaining.” The new OPM guidance, issued on March 5, instructs agencies to reopen their contracts with labor unions “as soon as is practicable” to reverse the damage done by the previous EOs. Fortunately, none of AFSA’s existing framework agreements with the six agencies where it is the exclusive representative for Foreign Service personnel need to be reopened. According to AFSA General Counsel Sharon Papp, AFSA and the State Department have long had a collaborative labor-man- agement relationship, and this continued even under the Trump administration executive orders. AFSA is planning to work more closely with the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Federation of Federal Employees, the unions that represent State Department Civil Service employees. n