Few people in this country have benefited from the democratic liberal agenda as much as James Abbott, the FLRA Member. We suspect his quality of life would be a tiny, tiny fraction of what it is today without the very hard-fought struggles of the leftwing political community. In return, he is brutally punishing liberals in the workplace, e.g., unions and the employees who believe in them. We will leave it to others to try to figure out why he is that kind of person.  We don’t do psychology at For now, we will settle for explaining why we say he is lashing out at the very people to whom he owes so much.

Since Abbott sat down in his FLRA seat, he and his sidekick, Colleen Duffy Kiko, have turned their backs on a neutral review of arbitration exceptions in favor of a war against unions and employees who turn to them for help. For example, when management has filed exceptions seeking to overturn arbitration decision they lost, they have won over 90% of the time.  But when unions have filed seeking to overturn cases they lost they only won 13% of the time. One explanation is that the entire arbitration community suddenly got real stupid when they wrote decisions upholding grievances, but retained their brilliance when they found against employees. If you believe that, just stop reading now.  As for us, the conclusion could not be clearer.  Abbott wants to severely undercut the effectiveness of labor unions. He sees them as bad for government despite what the Congress decided when it passed the labor law. In short, Jim thinks Congress made a mistake and he is going to correct it for them.

But what is even more disturbing is that he has chosen to punish unions by punishing the employees they represent, not simply the unions as institutions.  When the FLRA overturns a union’s arbitration victory, in almost every case it is taking away from an individual employee or small group of them a remedy they won to make up for some harm a manager did them.  For example, Abbott found it necessary to take money from an apprentice employee whose promotion an arbitrator found was wrongly delayed, an employee who an arbitrator said was improperly was denied overtime for over a year, an employee whose pay was kept low due to illegal discrimination according to an arbitrator, etc.  Abbott felt all that and more had to be undone to protect the government of the United States from the terrible strain those arbitration victories would have placed on it.

Federal sector unions have survived characters like Abbott before.  None of them wound up with federal judgeships, if that is what Abbott is trying to earn, by doing to unions what his boss is doing to immigrants, women, the poor, etc.  That is probably due to the long trail of bogus legal reasoning these types of people usually leave behind them.

We are sad for Abbott.  We know he is smart enough to know what he is doing and to figure out what folks think of him behind his back, even managers.  We love the line going around that asks, “What does an agency have to do to win a case before Jim Abbott?  Answer, make sure to put a stamp on the envelope.” Hypocrites have a heavy load to carry in life. They are all around us in the form of too many Catholic priests, far too many politicians and Supreme Court nominees, and most sadly among a few social activists.  Jim joins quite a crowd with his work.

Moreover, it sure looks like he is unaware that it is labor unions that would be the first, and maybe only, organizations in government that would stand up to defend people who want to enjoy the same quality of life he does.

For now, federal employees will have to endure yet another grossly biased member of the FLRA because he wants to keep his political sponsors happy so he can get another job when he loses this one.

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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