Federal employees enjoy many benefits that usually aren’t available in the public sector. Among the package of perks that come with working for the federal government, the special protections for employee rights can be easy to overlook. One important source of protections for workers who are unionized, or thinking about unionizing, is the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
Protecting the rights of federal workers to organize
The FLRA draws its authority from the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. 7101-7135, which protects the rights of most non-postal, civilian employees to organize, engage in collective bargaining, and freely join (or not join) labor organizations. For many federal workers, the most important function of the statute is to prohibit employer agencies or unions from committing unfair labor practices that impinge on these rights.
What unfair labor practices fall within the FLRA’s jurisdiction?
The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute shields a broad range of employee activities from unfair labor practices by agency-employers or unions. An employee who has brought or wishes to bring a grievance against the agency is protected against the agency retaliating with threats of damaged career prospects or transfer to a less desirable job. Agencies also cannot take certain employment actions, like eliminating compressed work schedules, without giving the affected employees’ union notice and an opportunity to negotiate. Employees also cannot be denied access to a union representative during certain investigatory interviews.
The statute protects workers from unfair labor practices by unions as well. A union cannot refuse to handle a grievance solely because the employee is not a union member. Nor can a union threaten an employee who files a grievance against it. Unions are also restricted in the ways they deal with agencies: they cannot refuse to negotiate in good faith, and they cannot be involved in strikes or similar activities.
Starting an FLRA grievance process benefits from good counsel
Resolving labor-management disputes is one of the central functions of the FLRA. Grievances can be filed online, making the process relatively easy, though a charge needs to provide sufficient detail to allow the FLRA to understand the issue. In response to a properly filed charge, the FLRA will begin an investigation process, during which evidence and testimony is gathered from each side. The results of the investigation are passed to a regional director, who evaluates the merits of the charge and, if warranted, issue a complaint.
Because the investigation stage is essential for establishing the merits of an unfair labor practice charge, it’s important to gather pertinent facts and evidence early on. The FLRA provides guidance to anyone thinking about filing a grievance, but especially in a situation where an individual employee wishes to pursue a charge, having the advice of an attorney—either from the employee’s union, or from a private firm with experience in the area—can be essential for getting the process done correctly.
Our firm’s proud history of working with public servants
At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we have worked with public servants for over 45 years, helping them protect their rights and recover what they are owed. We are proud to serve those who serve us. If you think you could benefit from the FLRA’s help, but need guidance on how it could impact your career or legal rights, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.