In Separate Cases, NTEU Asks FLRA, Supreme Court to Protect Federal Employee Rights

Press Release May 17, 2022

Washington D.C. – Organizations not affiliated with federal employees would no longer be able to use the Federal Labor Relations Authority to pursue new federal workforce policy under a proposal from the National Treasury Employees Union.

NTEU, which represents federal employees in 34 different agencies and offices around the country, asked the FLRA to limit who is allowed to request changes in labor relations policy in the federal sector.

“During the last administration we saw how private, anti-union forces outside of government misused the FLRA to impose policies and guidance that weakened the voice of the federal worker,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Today, NTEU is asking the FLRA to stop entertaining petitions from groups that neither employ nor represent federal employees.”

Currently, in addition to allowing federal agencies and labor organizations to request new FLRA policy statements or general guidance, the FLRA allows the head of “any lawful association not qualified as a labor organization” to submit requests. NTEU is asking to amend the regulation to “any lawful association of federal employees.”

“The FLRA is supposed to be an independent, neutral arbiter of labor-management bargaining disputes in the federal workforce, not a playground for ideologues who want to weaken federal workers and their unions,” Reardon said. “We respectfully request the FLRA amend its regulation and ensure that its own process remains focused on what is best for the federal government and its workers, not political interlopers with an agenda.”

Separately, NTEU filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow certain federal labor disputes go directly to court instead of through administrative agencies. It is important that NTEU have the right, when necessary, to ask a federal judge to issue injunctions or declare certain executive branch actions unconstitutional, which agencies like the FLRA are not empowered to do.

“In a recent high-profile example of why this is important to NTEU, we successfully challenged in court the former president’s May 2018 executive orders that illegally undermined the rights of federal employees and their unions, only to have an appellate court declare that we had to first pursue our claims on a case-by-case basis through the FLRA,” Reardon said. “That is a lengthy process and it leaves federal employees vulnerable to potentially illegal actions that infringe on their legal rights in the workplace. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to clarify the ‘channeling process’ and we urge it to do so in a way that protects the rights of plaintiffs to seek judicial relief.”

NTEU’s brief is filed in Case No. 21-86, Axon Enterprise Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, et al.

NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 34 federal agencies and offices.