NFFE GOES A LITTLE LESS FEDERAL
Here is something to watch. The National Federation of Federal Employees just announced it now represents private sector, non-federal, non-governmental workers. In July, the NLRB certified it as the representative of the “Golden Triangle Business Improvement District” employees, whose parent company of “Block-by-Block,” which is part of the “SMS Holdings Company.” We are happy for NFFE and for the now union-represented employees.
We are not aware of any NFFE announcement proclaiming or explaining its move outside the federal sector, but once it affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in 1999, it fell under the IAM&AW Constitution. That clearly permits its affiliates and locals to organize in any sector they can find interested employees.
This is something to watch because NFFE can no longer claim that its efforts are exclusively devoted to federal employees, even though today it is a tiny, tiny deviation from its historical focus on feds only. A few things could happen as a result, e.g.,
An existing NFFE unit of federal employees could decide that it does not want to be part of a union that is a mix of feds and other employees. If it does, it could break way to form its own independent, agency/occupation focused union like POPA, NWSEO or NATCA. (Breaking away from a parent organization is very easy in the federal sector if the break away unit holds the certificate of recognition rather than the parent organization. It is done via a Montrose petition. (See NAGE, 25 FLRA 728 (1987))
Another option for a dissatisfied unit would be to affiliate with a national union focused solely on federal employees. While AFGE and NTEU are two such unions, AFGE cannot take in a breakaway unit from another AFL-CIO affiliated union, which NFFE is, due to the internal rules of AFL-CIO.
That would leave NTEU as the only purely fed focused option for a NFFE breakaway. However, NTEU has deliberately not organized DOD employees at any time in its 75 year history. Changing that rule for a single breakaway unit could be a big deal for current NTEU convention voters, the majority of whom are still Treasury Department employees. (Ironically, a large part of what is now NTEU was originally represented by NFFE.)
It is always possible that a union not affiliated with the AFL-CIO would take in a NFFE break away or even try to lure a NFFE unit away now that it is no longer a purely fed-focused union. SEIU and the Teamsters come to mind.
Finally, nothing at all could happen. Stay tuned. Just as there are good reasons for federal employees to join only unions that purely organize feds, there are other good reasons for ignoring that in favor of what a more sector diverse union offers.