Although it makes no sense outside the world of “stir-up-the-base-and-its contributions” politics, the odds are increasing that federal employees will have to endure shutdown furloughs once again in the near future. Consequently, if your union has not already addressed that situation in an existing agreement, it is a good time to open negotiations over the potential furloughs using the union’s right to initiate mid-term bargaining. If you do, we suggest you watch the video where an attorney explains how to conduct I&I bargaining over this topic.  The attorney, Raven Hall, had a distinguished career as an negotiator and arbitration attorney with a federal employee union, followed by a tour with a DC law firm and the Teamsters’ General Counsel staff.  She is now in the AFL-CIO General Counsel shop.

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Not sure why the union chose to take this case to the generally anti-employee Federal Circuit Court rather than to arbitration. Afterall, arbitrators have ordered EDP and the FLRA has upheld those orders. But the Federal Circuit just slammed, nailed, and super glued the door shut on hopes of tens of thousands of feds who had to face inordinate exposure to COVID during its pre-vax days. Continue reading

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FLRA slipped a bizarre gift under our L-M community pillow on the eve of Valentines’ Day. It held that unions can be obligated to reopen and modify existing term bargaining ground rules agreements in the middle of that bargaining. That struck us as odd given a ground rules agreement has the same status of any agreement. Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, 16 FLRA 944, 945 (1984), and is enforceable as any other agreement DOD, GA and AFGE, 40 FLRA 1211 (1991).  Everything we know about the law confirms that neither party has a statutory obligation to renegotiate until the agreement has concluded, unless a law is enacted conflicting with a portion of it. FLRA offered no reason why it suddenly believes one party can force the other to modify an agreement mid-term. So, let’s see if we can figure out a good reason for this white elephant. Continue reading

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Few things are as frustrating as winning a grievance, arbitration or ULP only to find that the sole remedy imposed is an order that management not violate the law or contract again.  FLRA claims that remedies should “restore, so far as possible, the status quo that would have obtained but for the wrongful act,” and that they should be chosen in part as a “deterrence of future violative conduct.”  Even the courts have talked tough about remedies, “An approach to remedies that systematically fails to deter non-compliance, or dilatory compliance, with the Statute’s directives is fundamentally at odds with the Authority’s responsibilities. . .”  Continue reading

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Ask a manager if you can grieve non-selection from a BQ list and you are likely to hear that you can’t. Some of them will even quote part of a federal regulation that bars grievances over non-selection from a “group of properly ranked and certified candidates.” (5 CFR 335.103(d))  But, there are ways to get around that, e.g., allege that the list was not properly ranked, certified, or considered.  That may sound like hair-splitting, but it gets the union the right to grieve. There are five ways to do that successfully. Continue reading

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Later this year it is all but certain that union reps’ lives will be a little more complicated—and maybe a lot more. The Supreme Court is all but certain to substantially increase the pressure on employers to accommodate employee requests to practice their religion.  Under the current Supreme Court precedent, it is almost impossible for an employee to demand a reasonable accommodation that requires a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provision be waived or ignored so s/he can participate in some religious activity. We expect that this Court will make it a lot easier to insist that bargaining agreements be overridden so employees can participate in religious activity. Here are a few examples of what we expect to see soon after the Court’s new decision which led us to use the war analogy. Continue reading

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Those looking to build membership in their union can learn a very important lesson from recalling how Jeff Bezos built Amazon from a single product bookstore into a mega-retailer. The short answer is that while he could have made a comfortable living just selling books he knew that not everyone was interested in buying books. The secret to attracting more customers was in offering different kinds of products because each product brought a new constituency into the Amazon jungle. While unions can scrap along focusing on just two or three issues members are interested in, such as only grieving disciplinary actions, overtime denials, and evaluation issues, that is not going to get them an Amazonian “market share” of the bargaining unit. The more workplace issues that a union monitors, analyzes and enforces the more issue constituencies it is going to arose and attract. So, we thought we would share some of the many kinds of grievances we have been involved in that brought in new members. Hopefully, the list will trigger some new ideas for your representational efforts. Continue reading

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The political extremists who see unions as their enemies (and most are) and who would give managers unreviewable dictatorial power to fire whomever they wish for any reason they wish are at it again.  Their latest whine is that arbitration of employee terminations is bad because arbitrators reinstate employees more often than the MSPB. It is true that they do, but the authors of this argument “shirk” the very good reasons why this happens. I am not sure whether to pity their laziness or condemn them as habitual liars. But while I figure that out here are the reasons why arbitrators justly reinstate a higher percentage of terminated federal employees. Continue reading

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Although only a few federal employees bargaining units are allowed to negotiate over salaries, virtually all fed units are allowed to demand increases in indirect ways of increasing their members’ total compensation. We listed in the two following posts the many bargaining demands unions can make that boost take-home pay. If your union agreements do not address these issues, you should be asking why not. For bargaining proposal ideas check out COMPENSATION INCREASES UNIONS CAN BARGAIN(Pt.1) and COMPENSATION INCREASES UNIONS CAN BARGAIN (Pt. 2)

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Very few labor agreements or grievances address an employee’s right to career development opportunities. But a new case out of the EEOC suggests that this is a field union reps should think more aggressively about. The Commission upheld an employee’s claim of sex discrimination in how the agency chose to mentor people and detail them into career enhancing situations. To reach that conclusion the EEOC, an arm of the federal government, decided that the denial of career development opportunities can be just as much of an adverse action against an employee as termination or failure to promote. Consequently, union reps stand on firm ground now when they ask to address those issues in negotiations or file a grievance over them. For example, … Continue reading

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