Federal courts have begun formal consideration of disputes over the Federal Services Impasses Panel, with the validity of the agency’s rulings potentially at stake.
The FSIP, an arm of the FLRA, considers deadlocks in bargaining between agencies and unions and in recent times has issued a string of rulings that unions believe severely undercuts their role in the federal workplace on alternative work schedules, telework and other matters.
In two pending suits, the AFGE union argues that those decisions should be overthrown on grounds that the members of the panel should be subject to Senate confirmation rather than direct presidential appointees.
That issue in turn depends on interpretations of how much authority the FLRA has over the FSIP; the administration recently moved to bolster its position by delegating to the FLRA the authority to remove FSIP members.
In one of the cases, involving an AFGE unit at HUD, a federal district court rejected the government’s bid to throw out the suit on procedural grounds, meaning that the case can proceed to the merits of the union’s arguments.
In the other case, involving an AFGE unit at VA, a judge heard—without deciding—similar arguments from the government that the dispute belongs first before the FLRA and not in the federal courts.
Panel Backs Restriction on Official Time (April 22)