The FLRA is seeking input on the implications of clauses in labor-management contracts that automatically extend those agreements after their expiration dates pending further bargaining.
The notice in the January 23 Federal Register for a 30-day comment period came in response to a request from the Agriculture Department that the FLRA issue a policy position on that issue. The FLRA recently denied several other requests by USDA and other agencies to issue statements on various other bargaining issues, however.
At issue is whether an agency can immediately put new policies into effect when a contract expires when the contract states that upon its expiration its terms will remain in effect until the parties reach a new agreement.
The notice pointed to differing conclusions that arbitrators have reached regarding an agency’s rights in that situation.
The outcome could have wide implications as contracts that were negotiated prior to the White House’s May 2018 executive orders expire and agencies move to impose the terms of those orders such as restrictions on the scope of bargaining, limits on official time, and more.