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The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations no longer exists after President Donald Trump revoked the Executive Order that created it. So, where does this leave the federal labor unions and the workforce they represent?
One of the provisions of President Obama’s Executive Order allowed the Council to initiate pilot programs that were designed to grant labor unions a greater scope of permissive topics to bargain over with agency leaders.
In its 2012 report, the Council stated that these pilot programs created better dialogue between unions and management, but the results of the bargaining sessions were mixed. The Council continued its work until President Trump signed his Executive Order revoking President Obama’s Executive Order. President Trump also had the Council’s report removed from public record.
For labor unions and the federal employees they represent, this move means the scope of their negotiating power with agencies will be narrowed down to pre-2010 levels. Agencies will not need to broaden the items they negotiate with the Unions any longer. In essence, unions will be unable to influence the larger decisions that federal agencies make for their employees.
This is not to say labor unions will be rendered completely ineffective. They will continue to represent federal employees in adverse employment actions and administrative hearings – areas that are of immediate importance to those who are facing such actions or who are filing grievances. They just won’t be able to give full representation of the employees they serve when negotiating collective bargaining agreements.
One more aspect to note: the unions’ power to bargain with federal agencies have ebbed and flowed with each administration since the creation of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in 1978. Some administrations have been supportive of unions’ negotiating rights, and some have been supportive of the agencies’ negotiating rights. So while the unions’ negotiating rights are limited now, they may expand again with a new administration.
Mathew B. Tully is a founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. He concentrates his practice on representing federal government employees and military personnel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule a meeting with one of the firm’s federal employment law attorneys call 2027871900. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.