BARGAINING WITH AN ANTI-UNION GOVERNMENT
Since the Trump empire of hotels, resorts, golf courses and other developments will remain heavily dependent on good service from its employees and relationships with their unions, for this posting we are going to assume that the Breitbart folks in the new Administration do not succeed in making federal employee unions illegal or even totally powerless. This post assumes that labor gets the same treatment from the Trump White house that the self-proclaimed “compassionate conservative” George W. gave it, namely, that it turns the federal agencies in charge of labor relations over to the Heritage Foundation to play with. If that is the way things go, then federal unions will need to tap some very sophisticated bargaining strategies developed during the Reagan and W reigns of terror. We are not going to share them here or anywhere else in writing, but over the next few weeks we are going to point the interested readers in a few directions that might prove enlightening to learning all the tricks that those who endured Reagan and W. had to create on the run.
To begin, one case will always epitomize just how poorly unions will be treated once union-hating politicians are in charge, namely, AFGE, Local 1923, AFL-CIO, 02 FSIP 167 (2004). After months and months of difficult bargaining, the parties’ dispute wound up at the Federal Services Impasses Panel, which at the time was chaired by a full-time officer of the Heritage Foundation. The dispute had 26 issues once the full Panel got its hands on the case. When the final decision was published the Panel found against the union on 25 of the 26 issues in favoring of ordering adoption of the agency’s proposals. The most basic take away from that case for unions should be that under no circumstances should they let the FSIP that is likely to be get its hands on a dispute.
But neither should they despair and assume all is lost. A few weeks ago we learned of new a case where a union won about $900 million in back pay for its members. The arbitration awards, upheld by FLRA require that those unit employees and former employees be compensated for any agency shift assignment abuses suffered dating back to October 2001. A few months ago we read about another case, this one out of AFGE, where the union has won what it estimates to be $500 million in retroactive compensation for employees and former employees who suffered from agency mistakes dating back to 2002. We could point to at least a half-dozen other cases that resulted in tens of millions in back pay won by union leaders who know all the rules, tricks, and burial grounds that kept their unions looking like winners through terrible times. And we will over the next few weeks.
But for now we want to urge depressed union leaders, and the hundreds of LR Specialists who might be wondering what happens to their career if unions are gutted, that is a potential future.