CAN UNIONS SACRIFICE RETIRED GRIEVANTS?

Every so often we hear from a union officer trying to settle a grievance asking whether s/he can cut out of the deal anyone no longer in the unit, agency, or even federal government. For example, suppose an agency refused to pay 50 unit employees public transit subsidies one fiscal year despite a contract entitlement at the rate of $200 a month. If the union filed a mass grievance on October 15, 2004 that covered all 50 harmed employees and it took nine years to settle that case (October 15, 2013) after all the grievance steps, multiple arbitration hearings, FLRA exceptions, etc. it is very likely only half of the original 50 were still in the bargaining unit then. Continue reading

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EEOC PUNISHES VA’S CHRONIC DELAYS

QUESTION: What can you do when an agency simply fails to produce an EEO Report of Investigation more than 270 days after the complaint was filed? ANSWER: Celebrate. Continue reading

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THE GOOD OLD DAYS BEFORE UNIONS

If you are too young to remember them, don’t worry.  They are coming back fast. You soon will get to relive the thrill of low wages, little training, crushed limbs, 12 hour workdays and rare weekends.  If you can’t wait, zip through piece on msn.com today explaining how great it is to work in non-union auto factories in Alabama.

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EMPLOYEE GETS $666.00 IN BACK PAY TO EXPRESS MILK

Unless someone has been hiding under a rock in a faraway land without electricity the last few years, they have heard that employers have to provide break time and other accommodations to female employees to express milk for nursing children.  But that doesn’t mean that the average soul knew that if the employer violated that rule the employee could be entitled to extra compensation under the FLSA to make up for that. The firm of Fisher Phillips just posted on its blog a story about how DOL went after an employer ignoring the law and got an employee cash.  While the tangible remedy for the employee is good, it is also good news for any union that grieves a nursing accommodation denial because any case that yields back pay, even a small amount, usually entitles the union reps to much larger attorney fees.  Unions should let employees know they are entitled to this benefit and that they can get something more than an apology from an agency.

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PUSH-UPS, SMUSH-UPS. QUALIFICATION STANDARD UNENFORCEABLE

Management can’t enforce physical fitness qualification standards for employees—unless they follow the law.  It is not hard to wander from the requirements, as the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not long ago. That case provides a good overview of how employees and unions can attack certain fitness qualification standards. Continue reading

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NICE TOUCH, AFGE, AND THANKS, MARK ROTH

Normally, in any political organization the system is designed to give all the credit for anything good that happens for the members to the top elected official. While there are some legitimate reasons for that, it also has some disadvantages that we will not go into here. So, we were happy to see that AFGE gets it when it comes to giving recognition to someone other than the national president.  Continue reading

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SAY “THANKS, BUT NO THANKS” TO BACK PAY FROM FSIP OR INTEREST ARBITRATORS

Few things make a union negotiator and members as happy as a Panel order that makes a pay increase retroactive. A fistful of cash relieves a lot of membership frustration with management. But as with so many good things, this also may be too good to be legal. Consequently, unions should think twice before exerting effort and bargaining chips inviting a Panel member or private interest arbitrator to order retroactivity. Panel orders can be challenged via agency head review and as detailed below there is a whopper of a legal argument available to agencies that does not seem to have been raised until recently. Continue reading

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TSA IS A VERY BRIGHT SPOT FOR ORGANIZED LABOR

There is not a lot of good news about unions these days. Last week 75% of the employees in Boeing’s South Carolina plant voted against unionizing and membership continues to decline in too many other unions despite the fact that they have tens of thousands of nonmembers in bargaining units they already represent. So, we can all benefit from the good news coming out of AFGE’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unit. Continue reading

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CLONING THE STATUTORY RIGHT TO BARGAIN—A PLUS OR MINUS?

While the statute gives unions the right to bargain over conditions of employment, FLRA has also recognized that the parties can create an additional contractual right to negotiate. Generally, they do this when drafting an agreement article dealing with the union’s right to be notified of mid-term changes and bargain. Those provisions often paraphrase the statutory right to bargain because the actual language of the statute is too legalistic to drop into a collective bargaining agreement as is. But is adding a contractual right to bargain to the existing statutory right a plus for the parties or not? Continue reading

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THE “HEBREW SLAVE” COMMENT

An employee and her supervisor were communicating via e-mail when the employee commented that federal employees generally work shorter hours than private sector ones. The supervisor responded, “Wow,… then I must be a damn fool…cause I’ve been working like Hebrew slave the last 9 years and don’t have enough time to take off…at least somebody got it right.”  The employee was offended and soon filed an EEO charge alleging she had been subjected to religious harassment when the supervisor made that comment.  The manager claimed it as a joke.  But, the EEOC Administrative Judge… Continue reading

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