Reardon Challenges Neutrality of Federal Labor Relations Authority

Press Release June 4, 2019

Washington D.C. – The government agencies that are supposed to be neutral, independent arbiters of disputes in the federal workplace have their finger on management’s side of the scale, according to National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon.

“The federal workforce relies on the Federal Labor Relations Authority to help administer the federal labor laws fairly and ensure good faith collective bargaining, but our experience these last two years has been the opposite,” Reardon said. “That’s why NTEU is pleased to see Congress hold an oversight hearing today about the operations at FLRA.”

The House Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee is conducting a hearing at 2 p.m. today titled, “Examining Federal Labor-Management Relations,” in which FLRA Chair Colleen Duffy Kiko is the sole witness.

Since taking office, the new Federal Labor Relations Authority majority has issued decisions that narrow the scope of bargaining, strip employees of their collective bargaining rights, and make it harder to enforce employee rights through the grievance procedure.

“This administration’s policy is that robust labor-management collaboration is wasteful, and the FLRA majority’s decisions cater to that unfortunate and erroneous premise,” Reardon said.

NTEU has assessed that out of 124 FLRA decisions on the merits since the new majority took office, management has prevailed 78 percent of the time, an unusually lopsided result.

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which created the FLRA, clearly states that collective bargaining in the federal sector safeguards the public interest and contributes to the effective conduct of public business. 

“The very agency built to uphold those principles cannot be allowed to weaken them,” Reardon said.

Reardon also commended the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government subcommittee for advancing legislation Monday night that includes support for collective bargaining in the federal workplace.

“For decades Congress has declared that collective bargaining is in the public interest because it ensures our civil service remains one based on merit, not political patronage. I would like to personally thank the committee members for recognizing employee rights and taking action to safeguard them, now and in the future,” Reardon said.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.