Hoping for a quick rescission of the current administration’s workforce executive orders, the two largest federal employee unions have endorsed Joe Biden for president in 2020.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers, was the first to make the announcement on Monday morning.
The American Federation of Government Employees offered up its endorsement of the former vice president just a few hours later. AFGE represents some 700,000 federal employees.
Their endorsements aren’t necessarily surprising. Both unionssupported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
But President Donald Trump’s workforce executive orders on collective bargaining, official time and employee removals, which he signed back in 2018, have done significant damage to the administration’s relationship with federal employee unions.
NTEU National President Tony Reardon said Biden told him personally he would rescind the 2018 executive orders. Reardon described it as “the clearest possible example of how a Biden presidency would immediately improve the professional lives of federal employees.”
“Federal employees are some of the most talented, hard-working and inspiring people I have ever met, worthy of the utmost dignity and respect,” Biden said in a statement thanking NTEU for its endorsement. “As president, I’ll ensure the federal government serves as a model for employers to treat their workers fairly. I’ll restore worker’s rights to organize and bargain collectively, making sure they have a voice in the workplace, work to provide consistent and regular pay increases and hold the line to protect their benefits.”
Both NTEU and AFGE collectively sued the Trump administration over the workforce executive orders and earned a win from a federal district court. But the appeals court later reversed the decision in 2019, arguing the lower court didn’t have the proper jurisdiction to weigh in on the EOs in the first place.
In announcing their endorsements, both unions described a lengthy preparation process.
AFGE conducted online and scientific polls of its members, as well as straw polls. It also gave both candidates the opportunity to respond to an issue questionnaire.
According to AFGE’s online poll, 58% of members said they supported Biden, and 28% said they endorsed Trump.
“In his responses to AFGE members’ questions, Vice President Biden committed to roll back the assaults on government workers’ rights on the job, to protect their benefits and retirement from cost-sharing schemes that benefit insurance companies and big banks but hurt workers and to make sure government workers are paid fairly and treated with dignity, fairness and respect,” Everett Kelley, the union’s national president, said Monday in a statement.
The union said the Biden campaign has proactively solicited policy proposals from AFGE and have incorporated some into its plans.
NTEU local and national leaders also evaluated both candidates and their public statements and track on records on several issues impacting federal employees, including pay, benefits, agency funding, collective bargaining and workplace rights.
“In the end, this was an easy decision for our NTEU leaders in every state and territory,” Reardon said. “Federal employees want a president who honors their service, pays them a fair wage and respects their integrity and professionalism. Joe Biden is the only choice.”
Biden also picked up an endorsement from the American Postal Workers Union earlier this year.