Akaka, Davis introduce bill to improve labor/management relations

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) have introduced joint legislation aimed at improving the working relationships between federal agencies and labor unions.

If enacted, the Federal Labor-Management Partnership Act of 2007 would establish a Federal Labor-Management Partnership Council, made up of agency officials and employee representatives, to advise the president on labor/management relations in the executive branch.

The proposed council would promote collaborative efforts to improve the civil service and also support the creation of local labor/management partnership councils, the sponsors said. The council would include officials from the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The work of such a council would ease government workforce reform efforts, said Akaka, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs’ management and workforce subcommittee.

“This partnership will help workplace changes earn employee acceptance and be more effective,” he said.

Union officials applauded the legislation. “Partnership works,” said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents about 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments. “And approval of this legislation would be a major step forward in addressing a number of serious problems now impacting the federal workplace.”

Kelly said that the bill would let employees get more involved in crucial decisions involving the workforce.

“Labor/management partnership fosters the pre-decisional involvement of frontline employees,” she said. “Frontline employees have good ideas on how to do things better for the public and the taxpayer. Labor/management partnerships provide a process for them to participate in helping their agencies better accomplish their missions.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is a co-sponsor of the Senate legislation. Co-sponsors of the House bill include Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Albert Wynn (D-Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

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