Unions and their reps can be just as impacted by a proposed agency management rights change as any other bargaining unit employees.  Consequently, the FLRA allows unions to make bargaining proposals to lessen the impact on them as well. Here are a few of our favorites.

Unions can demand that while some unit employees may be assigned to different local buildings or shifts that the union representatives be allowed to work at a particular location (or shift) so long as they would perform duties previously or otherwise assigned to their position.

Except as hereinafter provided, the Employer agrees that no Union representative will be transferred from one work area, work shift, or work week to another unless such transfer is dictated by compelling work commitments or training requirements, or is at the request of the employee involved. AFGE, 28 FLRA 1172 (1987))

Similarly, where there are union representatives serving in positions where any of a variety of duties could be assigned to anyone in that position, the union can propose that its representatives be given preference for certain work assignments.

Where the NTEU Chapter President or Steward is assigned to EP/EO field work, he/she shall be given the opportunity to work office/correspondence examinations before volunteers are solicited, absent just cause.

The Authority said that “where management determines it is necessary for some employees to perform the duties of their positions at a different location, the right to assign employees is not involved. In those circumstances, consequently, a proposal does not violate section 7106(a)(2)(A) if it concerns which employee — of those who are assigned to the positions and have the required qualifications and skills –would do the work. . . .Whether the employees affected by such a proposal are union officials is not relevant in determining if it violates management’s right to assign employees.” (NTEU, 28 FLRA 40 (1987))

Where unit employees are assigned to one of several locations and the agency decides to have a formal discussion with all of them at the same time, the union can negotiate where the meeting will be held—presumably to reduce the impact on its representatives to attend the meeting. NAGE proposed the following language which the FLRA has upheld:

All staff meetings involving bargaining unit employees will be conducted at the Newington Facility. (NAGE, 53 FLRA 926 (1997))

The Authority decided that the proposal did not prevent the Agency from supervising employees, determining the quantity, quality and timeliness of work production, or establishing priorities for the accomplishment of work, which are the core elements of the agency’s right to direct employees within the meaning of section 7106(a)(2)(A) of the Statute.

Another need unions have often is for private office space in which their representatives can meet with employees about grievances or related matters.  Where a midterm change reduces or even abolishes private offices for some or all unit employees, an AFGE case suggests that the union can demand that despite the agency’s plan private offices be provided to any union representatives working in the area.  (See AFGE, 39 FLRA 504 (1991))

The union can also demand that where a change involves significantly different rules or procedures that one or more of its representatives be trained in them before the change is implemented.

The Service will provide chapter officials and stewards more comprehensive training and education on the Drug Free Workplace Program and on the Employee Assistance Program. This training will take place on official time. NTEU, 39 FLRA 1532 (1991))

Proposals that require management to provide union representatives and unit employees with training in the agency’s drug testing program, to the extent that they merely require management to provide information and do not involve instruction in the duties of employees’ positions, do not directly interfere with management’s right to assign work under section 7106(a)(2)(B) of the Statute.

Not too different from the obligation to train union reps is the obligation to give them access to information produced by a change in working conditions.

The Union, at the facility level, may designate an EBUS Site Representative. The NATCA EBUS Site Representative shall have the same, timely access to all data as the Agency. NATCA, 62 FLRA 174 (2007)

As with any discussion of law, there is no guarantee that future FLRA members or courts might not change the law.  In the meantime, if the union is challenged on the negotiability of a proposal it should contact an attorney to get legal advice.  FEDSMILL does not provide legal advice.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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