FLRA keeps interpreting laws other than its own with impunity and without benefit of any expertise in those laws. It often gets its own law wrong in the opinion of the DC Circuit. The author asks how this agency, once characterized in a D.C. Circuit Court Decision as a “minor three-member commission with quite restricted expertise”, can defend an ideologically driven agenda and be considered a neutral adjudicator of disputes in the face of its record in court.
On June 3, the D.C. Circuit again reversed the FLRA for interpreting a law other than its own. The case, involving the negotiability of union proposals limiting Agency Inspector General investigations to procedures bargained with a union, demonstrated the Court’s continuing refusal to defer to an FLRA interpretation of a law other than the one it administers. The author suggests practitioners read the complete decision but addresses the highlights in his article.
In a January 3, 2014 decision, the Federal Circuit stated: “As explained in this opinion, by adopting two inconsistent interpretations of the same statutory language, the Authority has acted arbitrarily and capriciously”. This deals the FLRA, only back in operation since mid-December, a stinging rebuke on arguably its most extensive political tool, the determination as to what is or isn’t an “appropriate arrangement.”
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs held hearings on the pending confirmations of all three FLRA nominees on September 25. The author suggests that Federal LR practitioners watch the session which is about 1 ½ hours in length to get an appreciation of how the process works and how almost no discussion of substance took place.
FLRA is not deciding any cases as they are missing two members. If the former Chair is reconfirmed, we can expect more union proposals to be offered and ordered negotiable as “appropriate arrangements” for violating a management statutory right. The Author recently covered this topic at the Society of Federal Labor and Employee Relations Professionals’ annual conference. This article offers the meat of that presentation and suggestions for dealing with FLRA on this issue.
FLRA is offering parties an opportunity to provide input to both its prospective Guide to Negotiability and negotiability training materials. The author suggests that Agencies review these materials and provide input as training dollars are scarce and field activities and offices may rely on the information provided. Act quickly, the offer expires May 7, 2013.
Have you ever listened to someone give a presentation or state a particular view and leave out a critical piece of information? The Author suggests that perhaps FLRA’s General Counsel’s bias was showing in a recent presentation on Furloughs and Agencies need to take it with a big block of salt.