We are going to open with the bad news.  FLRA has used the statutory provision of 7103(a)(14)(B) that excludes from the concept of conditions of employment anything “relating to the classification of any position” to pretty much gut the right to negotiate over grades. When AFGE proposed, “There will be six GS-12 Longshore Workers Compensation Claims Examiner Positions (GS-991-12) in the Boston District Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs” FLRA wrote that …

it has “found that, by identifying the series and grade into which specified positions would be placed, the proposal ‘relate[d] to the classification of those positions’ and was outside the duty to bargain.”  That applies particularly to 7106(b)(1) assertions. This proposal would have increased the grade of the employees from GS-11 to 12. AFGE, Local 948 and U.S. Department of Labor, MA55 FLRA 582 (1999)

Even when a union tried to delay the agency reclassifying a position for a few months until all desk audits were complete, FLRA held this sentence to violate the classifications bar: “In the interim, the status quo of GS-525-5 Accounting Technician will be maintained.” NAGE, Local R14-23 and U.S. Department of Defense, VA, 54 FLRA 1302 (1998)

About the only sliver of a right a union has is if it proposes something that merely records in an agreement the position titles, series and grades of existing positions.  For example, FLRA allowed the following proposal because it left title, series and grade untouched and therefore merely amounted to a staffing proposal:

The proposal is the following list:

Digital Warehouse/IMPODS 1st Shift

1-Supervisor, GS-11

1-Computer Programmer, GS-9

3-Computer Operators, GS-07

3-Bindery Machine Operators, XP-05

2-QA/QC Operators (Printing Clerks (OA)), GS-04

1-Copier/Duplication Equipment Operator, GS-05

2-Distribution Clerks, GS-05

FLRA wrote, “The proposal would not, by its plain terms or as interpreted by the Union, require the Agency to classify, or reclassify, particular existing positions, and would not require the placement of incumbent employees into the positions established in the proposal…. This plainly acknowledges that the title and grade of positions established as a result of the proposal must be appropriate based on the work assigned to the positions, and vice versa.”  Or, to put it another way, by staying away from the classification issues, the proposal was negotiable under the “numbers and types” concepts of 7106(b)(1). NAGE, Local R3-76 and U.S. DoD, PA 55 FLRA 509 (1999)


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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