Filling Out the Impasses Panel

President Trump has reappointed two FSIP members. What impact will this have on federal employees’ case decisions?

The FLRA has announced that President Trump has reappointed Jonathan Riches and F. Vincent Vernuccio as Members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel or FSIP).

The FSIP is an independent entity within the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The Panel Chairman and Members serve on a part-time basis and provide assistance in resolving negotiation impasses between Federal Agencies and labor unions.

Jonathan Riches will serve the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2024. He previously served as a Panel Member from August 13, 2017 through January 10, 2019.

Riches is Director of National Litigation for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and General Counsel for the Institute. He litigates in federal and state trial and appellate courts in the areas of economic liberty, taxpayer rights, government transparency, free speech, and educational choice, among others.

He received his B.A. from Boston College, where he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and he earned his J.D. from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law.

Vernuccio will finish serving a five-year term expiring January 10, 2024 and previously served as a Member of the Panel from 2017 through January 10, 2019.

He is a labor policy consultant. Under President George W. Bush, Mr. Vernuccio served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2008-2009. He also served on the Trump transition team for the Department of Labor.

He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a graduate of the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida.

Filling Out the Impasses Panel

The Impasses Panel resolves disputes between federal agencies and labor unions if the parties have been unable to reach an agreement and if mediation has not been successful.

Federal employee unions do not have the right to strike. There are also significant restrictions on what can be negotiated by a federal union with an agency.

The Civil Service Reform Act embodied the Federal Service Impasses Panel into law as an alternative to strike. A strike can be used in the private sector as a way to obtain concessions from a company. The Panel is an impartial third party that resolves federal bargaining disputes through an administrative process as a way to keep the federal government functioning and to minimize labor disruptions.

Impact of Panel Decisions on Agencies

The background of the Panel Members can be important as their experience and world view may impact their decisions. Panel Members appointed by a Democrat are sometimes considered more inclined to make decisions in favor of unions and fewer restrictions on employees while those appointed by Republicans are sometimes considered more likely to make decisions that favor agencies striving to be more efficient with less union involvement.

President Trump dismissed Panel Members in 2017 and no decisions were issued for a while. After about a month, new Panel Members were nominated by the president and decisions resumed a short time later.

Some of these philosophical differencescan be seen in recent decisions issued which are generally more favorable to agencies than unions.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47