After months of deconstructing the existing hideous monster that plundered the L-M communities far and wide, President Biden has finished scouring the countryside for new parts, stitched them together, and sent his own creature out into the countryside.  On November 10, 2021 it showed what it intends to do with the mere L-M mortal peasants, known as the parties, and the news is neither good or bad. It is NEUTRAL and that is precisely what the two sides of the bargaining table have needed to put an end to the endless surprise attacks, litigation gymnastics, evasions, revenge, and senselessness that characterized too many L-M relationships during what we like to call the Orange Years (2017-2020). This first FSIP decision under the new Administration can be found at DoD, Texas and AFGE, Local 1004, 2021 FSIP 013 (2021). Below is a recap of the three most significant parts of the decision that all negotiators should know about. Continue reading

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Among the things you notice over a 40-year career working with unions is that not all national union reps are the same. In fact, they can differ greatly in how they approach the job, and that can have a major impact on how the locals they work with grow—or not. There is not much a local can do about the rep assigned to work with it given that national or regional elected officials usually have total control over staff assignments. But it should help to know what the differences or range of differences are. Consequently, we are going to describe and dissect two types of reps who are polar opposites of one another, occupying different ends of a spectrum. Continue reading

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Not long ago FEDSMILL posted a piece entitled, “Grievance Strategy Issues- Part 4” which examined how specific a grievance must be to avoid several traps that can destroy an otherwise valid allegation.  FLRA just added its own view on this in a decision entitled AFGE, local 1741 and DOJ, FBP, Michigan, 72 FLRA 501 (2021).  Unions had better rethink how specific their grievances are because you can bet the mortgage that agencies are going to start pounding them with this new decision to gut grievances no matter what the past practice is. Continue reading

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While death and taxes may be the more commonly recognized guarantees of life, not far behind are changes in performance standards.  Employees everywhere can count on managers trying to change their expectations, even if only in subtle ways, e.g., during a group discussion, employee annual reviews, e-mail messages, and daily feedback.  Here is what unions can do about that. Continue reading

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UNION REP TEST #17 (Drafting Midterm Change Proposals)

One of the very best things a union can do for employees is to stop implementation of an agency proposed change in working conditions until the union has fully explored the proposed change through information requests and midterm bargaining. At the center of that process is not only the union’s right to submit bargaining proposals, but also its skill at drafting them. Described below is a hypothetical proposed agency change followed by a series of True-False questions.  Test yourself on the questions.  The answers are at the end of the questions. Continue reading

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Sexual harassment is a well-known and well-litigated matter.  Mainstream media write about it often and most employers have policies prohibiting it.  But how many have heard of “age harassment” or an age-hostile work environment?  Here is what it is about and how to prove it. In a federal circuit court case titled Milan Dediol V. Best Chevrolet Incorporated Donald Clay, a 65 year old man claimed that his manager regularly addressed him as “old motherf****r,” “old man,” and “pops.”  Continue reading

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Imagine that the folks in your department work under a critical element that requires them to close a claim no later than 10 days after it is placed in their inventory and that for years almost everyone has met that standard. During that time an average of 20 new cases were put in their inventory each day. Now imagine that the White House, Congress or the media does something that causes the number of claims to surge to over an average of 40 arriving in each employee’s inventory daily.  Finally, imagine that when you and the Chief Steward accuse the agency of changing working conditions without notifying and bargaining with the union, it tells you that FLRA precedent holds that when the change is initiated by some force other than the agency, there is no bargaining obligation, and it shows you the cases proving that is rock solid case law. The agency also tells you that it has no plans to change the critical element. So, what can the union do for its members who are all failing to meet the critical element no matter how much harder they work? There are several things. Continue reading

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Almost every job has those few assignments that carry hidden benefits, e.g., they almost always earn those assigned a cash award, generate extra promotion points, or even almost automatically boost one’s appraisal.  What right does management have to exclude an active union rep from one? Continue reading

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UNION REP TEST #16 (Right to be Reassigned)

If you have read our posts from the beginning, you know that there are a few situations where the employee has a right to be reassigned and one of them is where the reassignment is a necessary reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability.  EEOC just issued a recent case which provides almost a textbook review of a disabled employee’s right to a reassignment, particularly where the agency considers it an undue hardship to provide the employee large amounts of telework in his current position or other accommodation. (See Shanti N. v. Xavier Becerra, Secretary, DHHS (Ind. Health Service) EEOC No. 2019004882 (2021).  We have extracted (and listed below) several statements from the decision which may or may not be true.  Read through the statements to see if you can spot which are true and which are false.  We include the answers after the questions. Continue reading

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UNION REP TEST #15 (Information Access)

Which of the following does a union not have to reveal to management to meet the “particularized need” standard for getting information.

A.  Why it needs the information,   B.   The Uses to which it will put the data,   C. The potential grievant on whose behalf it is requesting the information,   D. How the information relates to its representational responsibilities,  E.  The potential violation it believes management committed, or F.  Its strategies for using the data to represent the employee?

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