The VA has asked for a policy interpretation that would narrow eligibility of employees there to belong to unions by widening the definition of who is a management official, a policy that if ultimately adopted could set precedent government-wide.
If granted, the request to the FLRA would amount to the latest in a nearly unbroken series of decisions and policy statements in favor of management, the exception being a recent decision requiring the VA to honor a contract provision guaranteeing employees a three-month performance improvement period before taking disciplinary action on performance grounds.
In its request, the VA argued that the FLRA has interpreted the law such that “only individuals in leadership roles” qualify as managers even though the law itself defines such persons as those authorized to “formulate, determine or influence” policy within the agency.
The FLRA recently issued a policy statement paving the way for removing union rights from immigration judges on grounds that their decisions set policy.
Recent policy statements from FLRA: allow federal employees who are paying dues to stop those payments at any time after a year has passed, rather than being restricted to only one point during a year; bar employees from using official time for grass-roots type lobbying of Congress; require bargaining on so-called “zipper” clauses, which management typically proposes, to ban or limit mid-term bargaining during the period of a contract; state that once the original term of a ends, an agency head carry out changes in laws or policies since its inception even if negotiations are still ongoing; and set a higher standard for when management is obligated to bargain over changes it makes to certain working conditions for employees.