Donald Trump Sued by Federal Workers Over Executive Order on Union Representation

President Donald Trump discusses infrastructure investment in the economy and labor statistics at a union and apprentice-training center in Ohio. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is facing a lawsuit from the largest federal employees union, representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, claiming that the president's recent executive order restricting union representation during work hours violated the rights of its members.

See you in court, Mr. President. #EOhellNo

— AFGE (@AFGENational) May 31, 2018

The order, one of three that Trump signed last Friday that dealt directly with workers' rights, stated that allowing union representation during work hours was a waste of taxpayers' money and that "executive branch employees should spend their duty hours performing the work of the Federal Government and serving the public."

With the order in effect, unions cannot spend more than 25 percent of their work hours providing representation for their employees. Representatives are also not allowed to use official time to lobby Congress or appear on behalf of workers who have filed grievances.

Union representatives had been permitted to provide services during office hours because the federal law requires unions to offer support to all employees, whether they are paying members of the group or not, AFGE General Counsel David Borer told ThinkProgress.

Borer said of Trump's executive order, "It's all part of an effort to destroy the unions and shrink the size of the government, in the words of some Republicans, down to the size of where you can drown it in a bathtub."

While Trump is attempting to champion government efficiency, picking a fight against workers risks backfiring and costing him support if he chooses to run for reelection in 2020.

Working-class support was major for Trump in the 2016 election as he promised to revitalize the American economy and boost the country's middle class. But an internal survey conducted by The New York Times showed union approval of Trump had decreased since he was sworn into office. At the time of his inauguration, 45 percent of union members approved of him; as of January 2018, that approval rating fell to 37 percent.

Unions spent a record amount of money in the most recent presidential election, and studies have shown that labor unions have historically been more likely to support Democratic candidates. AGFE, for example, supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016.

AFGE's actions have already garnered support from many companies and advocacy organizations across the country.

NextGen America, a nonprofit committed to climate change that spent over $100 million in the 2016 election, tweeted on Thursday: "We stand with @AFGENational and unions nationwide as they fight the Trump administration's toxic, anti-worker agenda. #EOhellNO."