As a frequent critic of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), I read their decisions with an eye to predicting the future course they may take on issues. (See, for example, New FLRA Policy Announced: Everything’s Negotiable!)
Since Federal Agency managers, specifically OPM in its alleged leadership role, are too shortsighted to try and coordinate cases taken to FLRA, I hope my offering here at least serves as a cautionary tale for those who are smart enough not to take risky cases forward. By the way, no surprise about OPM as it apparently still believes Federal unions care about merit.
Read some union proposals, Mr. Berry. Of course, OPM is itself now talking about a "modern" definition of merit in which the word doesn’t really mean merit after all, so I guess the unions’ definition is as good as anyone’s.
A couple of weeks ago, I conducted a class on negotiability. To get ready, I looked at dissents of current FLRA Chairman Carol Waller Pope
on negotiability cases of which there are 12 or so. There are many, many more on arbitrator exceptions. Sadly, I didn’t have time to look at those in detail although I think they would also be very revealing about the FLRA under her leadership.
During her time as minority member, Ms. Pope frequently decried the Bush Authority’s departure from Clinton Authority decisions claiming these departures were ill advised violations of precedents of established law.
If you read previous articles, you’ll know I like to ping the Authority for its frequent adventures into interpreting other peoples’ laws and regulations without asking those law enforcers or regulators what interpretation they themselves intended. Ms. Pope is a practitioner of this particular predisposition as you’ll see from her dissents.
The Office of Government Ethics offers the following as a result of FLRA’s foray into interpreting its regs during Ms. Pope’s beloved Clinton Years:
"Agency ethics officials should contact OGE’s Office of General Counsel as soon as possible when any provision in OGE’s executive branchwide ethics regulations in 5 C.F.R. chapter XVI is the subject of a union proposal. In this way, OGE can answer any questions about the provision and thereby assist in assessing any unresolved negotiability issues. In appropriate cases, where the negotiability of a proposal concerning the regulations is before the Federal Labor Relations Authority, OGE may seek to participate as amicus curiae."
As always, the above reflects my thoughts and analysis. If I got either wrong, blame me alone.