White House Issues Federal Labor Relations Executive Order

The President issued an Executive Order that calls for a expanding negotiations between Agencies and their unions.

President Obama’s long anticipated Executive Order titled “Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services” issued December 9.

The Order establishes a National Council on Federal Labor Management Relations co-chaired by the Director of OPM and Deputy Director for Management, OMB. Other members include the Chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, five Agency executives, seven union presidents and the presidents of the Federal Managers Association and Senior Executive Associations.

Council functions include:

  • supporting the creation of department- or agency-level labor-management forums and promoting partnership efforts between labor and management in the executive branch;
  • developing suggested measurements and metrics for the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Council and department or agency labor-management forums
  • collecting and disseminating information about, and providing guidance on, labor-management relations improvement efforts in the executive branch, including results achieved;
  • utilizing the expertise of individuals both within and outside the Federal Government to foster successful labor-management relations,
  • training department and agency personnel in methods of dispute resolution and cooperative methods of labor-management relations;
  • developing recommendations for innovative ways to improve delivery of services and products to the public while cutting costs and advancing employee interests;
  • serving as a venue for addressing systemic failures of department- or agency-level forums established pursuant to section 3 of this order; and
  • providing recommendations to the President for the implementation of several pilot programs within the executive branch, described in section 4 of this order, for bargaining over subjects set forth in 5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(1).

Government Wide Forums

Partnership-like labor management forums will be created:

  • At headquarters and other  levels agreed to by labor and management
  • To allow employees and their union representatives to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters to the fullest extent practicable, without regard to whether those matters are negotiable subjects of bargaining under 5 U.S.C. 7106;
  • To provide adequate information on such matters expeditiously to union representatives where not prohibited by law; and make a good-faith attempt to resolve issues concerning proposed changes in conditions of employment, including those involving the subjects set forth in 5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(1), through discussions in its labor-management forums; and
  • To evaluate and document, in consultation with union representatives and consistent with the purposes of this order and any further guidance provided by the Council, changes in employee satisfaction, manager satisfaction, and organizational performance resulting from the labor-management forums.

Bargaining Impact

The Order calls for pilot programs of specified duration in some executive departments or agencies which elect to bargain over some or all of the subjects set forth in 5 U.S.C. 7106(b)(1) and waive any objection to participating in impasse procedures set forth in 5 U.S.C. 7119 that is based on the subjects being permissive.

What Does It Mean for You?

How all of this will impact current negotiations, operations and budgets is unclear but the President has put Federal sector labor relations in high relief at Agencies. Stay tuned, there’s certainly more to come.

About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.