Workforce

Union wins court case on bargaining rules

justice scales on a table 

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Federal Labor Relations Authority violated labor law when it tried to enforce new working conditions without consulting or negotiating with a union representing federal employees at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The American Federation of Government Employees filed suit against the FLRA when CBP disseminated a memo altering the policies under which El Paso agents conducted vehicle inspections and reviewed documents from passengers crossing border checkpoints.

AFGE argued that CBP changed work conditions without notifying or properly negotiating with the union, constituting a violation of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.

The FLRA later ruled in CBP's favor when it appealed after AFGE won an arbitration award.

The agency argued that there is a distinction between employment conditions and working conditions, a rationale the D.C. court rejected in its decision.

"The Authority took the opportunity to alter its precedent to clarify that there is a distinction between conditions of employment and working conditions but failed to explain its departure from precedent," Judge Karen Henderson wrote in her June 9 decision, arguing that the FLRA had misread and misapplied case law to justify its previous opinion.

The judge's decision means the FLRA has to rethink the case under the court's reading of precedent and the law.

AFGE National President Everett Kelley hailed the D.C. court's decision as a victory for preserving federal employees' bargaining rights.

"The FLRA had tried to use this case to limit workers' bargaining rights and prevent the union from negotiating on their behalf on certain issues," he said in a statement. "Had the agency prevailed, it could have limited the scope of bargaining through the federal sector."

About the Author

Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.


Featured

  • People
    Federal CIO Suzette Kent

    Federal CIO Kent to exit in July

    During her tenure, Suzette Kent pushed on policies including Trusted Internet Connection, identity management and the creation of the Chief Data Officers Council

  • Defense
    Essye Miller, Director at Defense Information Management, speaks during the Breaking the Gender Barrier panel at the Air Space, Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

    Essye Miller: The exit interview

    Essye Miller, DOD's outgoing principal deputy CIO, talks about COVID, the state of the tech workforce and the hard conversations DOD has to have to prepare personnel for the future.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.