In this Aug. 21, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Charleston, W.Va. Credit: Alex Brandon | AP

WASHINGTON — A federal judge late Friday dealt a victory to federal employees and the unions that represent them, invalidating overnight key provisions of a series of Trump administration executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire employees and weaken the unions.

The overnight ruling by U.S. District Judge Ketanki Brown Jackson in Washington was a setback to the White House’s efforts to rein in the power of federal unions. Though federal employees’ pay is set by Congress, their unions have retained significant power even as private-sector unions have been in decline.

The three executive orders, issued just before Memorial Day, had sought to severely restrict the use of “official time” — on-duty time that union officials can spend representing their members in grievances and on other issues. The rules also limited issues that could be bargained over in union negotiations. And it rolled back the rights of workers deemed to be poor performers to appeal disciplinary action against them.

Jackson took issue with key elements of each order and enjoined the administration from enacted them.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest of the dozen unions to sue the administration over the executive orders, applauded the ruling. They called it a victory for public-sector unions and the protections Congress gave federal employees in 1978 when it guaranteed civil servants the right to bargain collectively over working conditions in the government.

“President Trump’s illegal action was a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress specifically guaranteed to the public-sector employees across this country who keep our federal government running every single day,” AFGE’s national president, J. David Cox Sr., said in a statement.

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