Changes in FLRA Regional Office Structure
The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) is a relatively small agency that works with the labor-management community of the federal government. As such, it is largely unknown outside of this community and is of particular importance to the unions representing federal employees.
The FLRA has previously indicated its intent to close two regional offices—one in Dallas and one in Boston. The announcement of the closure of the Dallas office is in the Federal Register of September 13, 2018. As a result, there are also changes to the geographical jurisdictions of the Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver Regional Directors for the FLRA.
The Federal Register announcement will be effective on September 21, 2018. Today’s announcement also amends regulations listing the current addresses and describing the geographic jurisdictions of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. These changes reflect the closing of the Dallas Regional Office and changes to the geographical jurisdictions of the Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver Regional Directors.
Most of the FLRA’s budget goes for employee compensation and benefit costs and rent for office space. The FLRA Chairman notes in a letter to Congress (included in the Federal Register announcement) that about 90% of the agency’s budget is spent on these costs.
Closing the Dallas office will impact seven FLRA employees. Another nine employees would be impacted by closing the Boston regional office which is not included in this announcement. All of the impacted employees will be offered reassignment within the agency either at FLRA headquarters or in another regional office.
Rationale for Changes to the FLRA Regional Offices
The announcement indicates that the decision was made after “[A]n examination of budgets, caseloads, rental costs, operating costs, and staffing….The Authority expects no adverse effect on the quality or efficiency of case handling as a result of the Dallas Regional Office closure.”
As part of the changes, the FLRA is also reassigning jurisdiction for South Dakota from the Denver Regional Director to the Chicago Regional Director.
An earlier letter from FLRA Chairman Colleen Duffy Kiko to Congressional leaders stated:
[I]t is important to note that technology has changed significantly since the agency opened its doors in 1979, providing the ability to easily transact business virtually through electronic means. As such, it is no longer as crucial or cost-effective as it was in 1979 for the FLRA to have regional offices and employees in as many geographic locations.
The primary factors considered in the decision included:
- Five-year average case intake for each regional office;
- Annual rent costs for each regional office outside of D.C.;
- The number of employees in each region; and
- Proximity to another regional office.
FLRA Member Ernie DuBester disagreed with the decision and his dissent is included in the Federal Register announcement. He noted the agency and its employees have already made “repeated sacrifices” in budget cuts and that the changes are “demoralizing” and “impairs the FLRA’s ability to perform its mission.”
He also stated that the decision is “a crying shame” and “the mind reels” at the decision.