HOW HERITAGE HURTS UNIONS

No, we are not talking about the Heritage Foundation, which often lines up against union interests. At least not yet. The kind of heritage this piece takes aim at are all the attributes of a union that accumulate over the years to make it what it is today.  As negotiations in the federal sector gets more and more sophisticated, unions should expect that agencies are going to focus on these things to push back against union bargaining demands.  After all, why should an agency listen to a union’s demand that it discipline fairly, compensate justly, or make objective personnel decisions if the union does not do the same?  Working as the chief negotiator for a hypocritical union is not a position of strength in modern bargaining circles. Consequently, it is time that unions look around at their own governance as well as personnel policies and practices to see what must change to strengthen their demands on agencies.  If for no other reason they should do it because agencies are starting to do it. Here are a few of the most vulnerable areas when it comes time to view constitutions, by-laws, and internal procedures. Continue reading

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RATING PANEL GRIEVANCES: WE HAVE SAID IT BEFORE AND HERE IT IS AGAIN

Attacking the scores of a promotion rating panel is hard to do under traditional labor law.  But, if you can find a reason to allege that there was not just a violation of a contract provision, such as the need for all promotion actions to be “systematic and equitable,” but also an EEO violation, you have a better chance of winning the case.  EEO case law requires agency rating panels to carry a burden that most contract grievances do not.  The latest example of this is a case (David T. v. Megan Brennan, Postmaster, EEOC No. 2019001172 (2019)) that resulted in an employee getting retroactively promoted and compensatory damages in addition to back pay. EEOC said the rating panel members “failed to provide any specificity when asked why successful candidates were recommended and why Complainant was not.”  EEOC demands a lot of specificity that contract grievance arbitrators do not.  For example, EEOC wrote … Continue reading

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WHAT IS THE “INTERACTIVE PROCESS?”

The short answer is that it’s something the agency must engage in to avoid violating the law and incurring huge financial penalties.  The slightly longer answer is that it can often require an agency to bypass or waive its own rules and regulations to help an employee avoid losing his/her job or just some benefit of the job. A complete answer can be found in the new EEOC decision Irina T. v Robert Wilkie, Secretary, DVA, EEOC No. 0120180568 (2019) where an employee with a disability was denied a request for additional leave beyond what FMLA provides. Irina was a … Continue reading

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WHY TRUMP NEEDS TO CRIPPLE UNIONS

If you are wondering why The Donald and his fellow tribesmen are bothering with union rights at a time when China, Iran, Moscow and a half-dozen other life-and-death threats are looming over our heads, here is a very thoughtful piece of journalism that spells out the very selfish reasons for the anti-union fire. hence, the Executive Orders designed to gut organized labor.

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STOP LEGO HARASSMENT NOW

Our fellow bloggers at the Employment & Labor Insider have done Americans a great service bring bringing this national scourge to our attention. Please check out their posting entitled, “Lego-Based Workplace Harassment Will Not Be Tolerated.”

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Staff Retreat On the Budapest to Bucharest Labor Relations Crawl.  Be Back in Early May.

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TEST YOURSELF: The Specific Notice Obligation

 We have said it often before.  The biggest process mistake management can make while bargaining is to violate this obligation, and aggressive enforcement of this obligation by the union increases its visibility, credibility, and bargaining clout.  Simply stated, the law requires management to give the union “specific notice” of any change in conditions of employment before the agency can implement the change. But there are a lot of subtleties and details union negotiators should know well.  We have posed 10 True-False questions below followed by the answers.  Test yourself to get a sense of how well you know this area of law. Continue reading

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THE MONTROSE OPTION

Given this may be the most important check a local union has on its union’s national office, we were only too glad to help when one local union recently asked us to lead it through a Montrose process. They were not sure which national union they wanted to affiliate with, but they were positive they wanted to get away from the union they were with.  The Montrose option permits local unions to easily and quickly disaffiliate from their national union and join another union or go independent.  The steps in the process are discussed well in NAGE, 25 FLRA 728 (1987). Continue reading

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THE WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR ATTORNEY FEES?

As we all wait to see how Abbott and Kiko put their Trumpian scent an employee’s right to get attorney fees when back pay is awarded, unions need to prepare for the worst case scenario.  That may have been described in a 1984 Comptroller General case titled, Leland M. Wilson: Claim for Attorney Fees and Interest, CG B-205373(04/24/84). In short, the CG examined the law and suggested the only time employees can get attorney fees if their case involves a grievance over an adverse action or prohibited personnel practice. Here is what the CG wrote, Continue reading

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TO THE UNBELIEVABLE AFGE. CONGRATS AGAIN! 

If you have been following us for years you know that we believe the single most important indicator of a union’s quality is its membership strength. Show us a union with a long record of membership growth and we will show you one that gives employees they want, that shares power across several levels of leaders, that operates around deep values rather than superficial PR slogans, and that is a model for others. AFGE just filed its latest LM-2 report and it shows that for the 18th year in a row it has a net increase in membership. That is unbelievable given the rapidly decreasing size of the federal workforce. AFGE now has four times more members than any other federal union—and for that it deserves a very respectful tip of the hat for a job well-done.  We are not saying that AFGE is without aspects that could be improved, but as measured the people that count the most, it is a raging success.   

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