A divided FLRA has said it will move to 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.
The FLRA policy statement follows a request from OPM in mid-2019 to make that change in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving dues withholding for state and local government employees. While the majority of federal employees are covered by union bargaining units, only a minority are dues-paying members of a union.
At issue is a provision in federal labor law that once an employee elects to have union dues withheld from pay, that request “may not be revoked for a period of 1 year.” The FLRA for decades has interpreted that to mean that dues withholding may be revoked only at intervals of one year.
However, the new policy statement says that while the law clearly requires an initial wait of one year, it imposes no limits afterward. Allowing an election to stop at any time afterward “would assure employees the fullest freedom in the exercise of their rights” to participate or not participate in unions, said the majority decision of two members. It said the FLRA would soon propose formal rules to carry out that policy.
The dissenting member, though, said that an annual one-year window to cancel withholding reflected the intent of Congress when the law was written. Allowing cancelation at any time would “have a particularly detrimental impact on the ability of unions to manage their daily affairs; plan their annual budgets; and even comply with legal requirements governing the election of local union officers,” he wrote.
The AFGE and NTEU unions denounced the majority decision as a further erosion of union protections under the administration and the NTEU already has filed a court challenge.
Should an agency be able to immediately put new policies into effect when a contract expires? FLRA Seeking comment:
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