We all know that union activists cannot be fired, denied a benefit, or even poorly evaluated if the decision is based on or even related to their choice to be union activist.  But over the years FLRA has certified that union leaders have a few other rights that you might have forgotten about.  So, thought you a reminder of them would help along with excerpts from the precedential FLRA case. Continue reading

Posted in Union Rights | Tagged | Comments Off on


Pass this on to Unit Members: Managers cannot legally just select a few cases or days you worked on during the year to write your annual evaluation. The law, regulations and lots of union contracts contain rules managers must follow to ensure the sample is reasonable and representative.  For example, the U. S. Merit Systems Protection Board has issued final decisions addressing what constitutes a legally adequate sample of an employee’s work:
Continue reading

Posted in Performance | Tagged | 1 Comment


Pass This On To Unit Members: Can a probationary employee appeal his/her termination?  You bet s/he can.  In fact, there are more than a dozen different arguments a probationer can raise.  Your union rep can fill you in on them. But in the most recent victory for a probationer, the employee established that Social Security managers violated his rights under USERRA or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. As a preference eligible veteran, the employee’s probationary period was only one year as opposed to the normal two years.  This office of SSA uses a less demanding performance standard to evaluate the employee’s first year than it does for the second and subsequent years. As the end of the one year approached,… Continue reading

Posted in Probation Period | Tagged | 2 Comments

TEST YOURSELF, UNION REP (Religious Accommodation)

QUESTION: An employee calls her union rep, you, on the phone to ask if anything can be done to help her comply with the demands of her faith.  She practices Islam and is at a point in her religious life where she is now required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. She needs to be absent for about three weeks, even though she only has two weeks of annual leave available. However, her manager has refused to let her go at all. The manager says it is one of the very busy times of the year for the location in which she works and she is among the top producers in the office.  Is there anything you can do for her besides ask the manager to reconsider? Continue reading

Posted in Religion | Tagged | Comments Off on


The New York Times just published a headline story entitled, “How Fed Ex Cut Its Tax Bill to Zero.” But we think a better title for the federal employee community would be the one we led with above. After all, Fed Ex could not earn a dime if federal tax money was not massively pumped into maintaining the roads their trucks drive on nor on operating what is the most efficient air traffic control system in the world.  Since Fed Ex opened its doors, hundreds of billions of tax dollars have gone into those two national assets so that Americans and American commerce could benefit. On top of those are other benefits Fed Ex reaps from tax dollars, e.g., the DoD training of pilots that the company ultimately hires, the airports tax dollars built and maintain, the deliveries the Post Office does for Fed Ex because it cannot earn a profit going to remote locations, the millions spent by the federal government itself using Fed Ex to deliver its own packages, etc. All federal employee should feel offended by Fed Ex stiffing our national treasury and making their jobs that much harder due to inadequate resources.  Fed Ex is not the only big corporation that is exploiting the system, but it is one that feds in every government office in the country could send a message when they decide how to route their express mail. After all, if a conglomerate chooses not to support federal operations why should feds support it?

Posted in Taxes | Tagged | Comments Off on


PASS ME ON TO UNIT MEMBERS You may never have filed a grievance challenging a management decision, but thousands of federal employees do each year and many get the corrective action they wanted—whether it be new jobs, back pay, retroactive leave, respect, or something else. Here is a list of the 25 management decisions that federal employees grieve most often. Continue reading

Posted in Grievance/Arbitration, Pass Me On | Tagged | 1 Comment


QUESTION: An employee stops her union rep, you, in the cafeteria to report that her manager will no longer let her telework the three days a week she has for the last year. H he has limited her to one day a week. When the rep asks her why the manager did this, the employee reports that the manager told her his new third line manager has asked everyone to cut back on telework. The rep went on to check if any of the grounds in the contract for decreasing telework applied and assured himself none did. The employee said she would agree to file a grievance, but only if the remedy was worthwhile.  Otherwise, she would prefer to stay on the manager’s good side to see if she can change his mind over time.  Which of the following remedies can the union get from an arbitrator for the employee under law?

  1. A cease and desist order returning her to three days a week of telework,
  2. Reimbursement for the cost of coming to work on the two telework days a week denied her,
  3. Overtime for the time she spent traveling to work on the two telework days denied her,
  4. An order that she be allowed to telework three days a week for the next 12 months, and/or
  5. Reinstatement of any annual or sick leave the employee took because she was not teleworking.

Continue reading

Posted in Test Yourself | Tagged | Comments Off on


Although management usually has more power than employees, a union rep with expert knowledge of what law, regulation and contract already entitled employees to and who knows multiple ways to solve the same problem can tame that power substantially. Given that most unions do little to tell its local officers and stewards about developments stemming from cases other than their own union’s work, Fedsmill tries to keep those folks up to date on developments no matter which union or venue generates the developments. Moreover, one of the great failings of the American education system is that it does not spend six seconds over the first 18 years of a citizen’s life educating them on the employment laws, regulations, and practices that will control the next 50 or so years they will spend in the work force.  In contrast, hours are spent on such “vital” life skills as the Peloponnesian War, … Continue reading

Posted in Union Administration | Tagged | 2 Comments


FLRA just issued a decision in which it upheld an agency’s right to unilaterally terminate the terms of an existing labor agreement because the labor agreement said either party had the right to do so X days after the term of the agreement ended. Let’s assume that is a correct reading of that contract. But, that hardly clears the path for the agency to do what it wants because labor agreements have two natures.  First, they exist to memorialize the parties’ agreements on the way things should be done, e.g., vacancy announcements must be posted for ten days, overtime must be equitably distributed, etc. They also exist, however, to create a benchmark for identifying changes in the way things are done. For example,… Continue reading

Posted in Bargaining | Tagged | Comments Off on


Kudos to the Dept. of Agriculture executive who took on the bogus promotion selection system at Agriculture and won big. She filed an (EEO) complaint alleging that she was discriminated against based on her gender when from 2010 to the present Agriculture failed to pay her at a level similar to a male employee performing similar work. She claimed that violated the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In May 2010, the Agency offered the Complainant the position of Associate Chief Information Officer (ACIO), at a starting salary of $159,416, lower than her male predecessor’s starting salary of $172,200 in 2008.  HR tried to explain this away by claiming that the Complainant and her male comparator were hired by different people and therefore there was no intent to discriminate. Sounds hugely bogus to us, but EEOC slapped Agriculture’s argument down by pointing out that. . . Continue reading

Posted in Equal Pay | Tagged | Comments Off on