A group of federal unions has spoken up on behalf of the agency officials who are on the other side of the bargaining table, asking the Office of Special Counsel to be on the lookout for reprisal against those who might run afoul of the administration’s recent directives on bargaining.
“Through the course of these collective bargaining relationships, the representatives of our organizations, the vast majority of whom are federal employees, have built professional working relationships with the labor relations professionals at the various federal agencies,” a letter from two dozen unions said. “These relationships can sometimes be contentious, and our interests do not always align. However, it is understood that the relationship is legally created … In order for collective bargaining to operate properly, the representatives of both unions and agencies must have a free hand to engage in good faith toward each other and ensure they act in accordance with the law.”
The orders state that agencies should continue to fulfill their bargaining obligations, but also instruct them to take certain positions on matters including official time, the coverage of grievance procedures and the general scope of bargaining. Agencies further were told to quickly invoke outside mediation, file unfair labor practice complaints against unions, and impose their positions as policy under certain circumstances.
“We are concerned the labor relations professionals with whom many of us have good working relationships will face reprisal if they continue to engage in good faith as required. We believe the administration, through its executive orders and other actions, is violating the law and asking individual agencies and components to also violate clearly established law. This will require civil servants, who are labor relations professionals at various agencies, to carry out orders that violate federal statute,” the letter said.
“In that regard, we ask the Office of Special Counsel to be proactive in investigating retaliation (as well as implied threats of retaliation and other forms of pressure) being taken against labor relations employees at various agencies who push back against carrying out orders that violate law. We also urge you to remind federal employees, including labor relations professionals, that they can blow the whistle by contacting the Inspector General or the Office of Special Counsel,” it said.