A request has been filed at the FLRA to reestablish the National Association of Immigration Judges as a recognized union, the latest move in a long-running controversy that could have wider implications for which federal employees are eligible for union representation.
The request was filed after a majority of immigration judges signed a petition seeking restoration of the union, which the FLRA early this year decertified in a ruling whose roots dated to the Trump administration’s argument that they are management officials because their decisions influence agency policy.
In a 2020 ruling that has been seen as potential precedent for wider application, the FLRA agreed with that argument, with both Republican members of the board at the time in favor and the lone Democrat against. However, the following year the Justice Department under the Biden administration agreed to recognize the union, while the union agreed to withdraw unfair labor practice charges it had filed against the department.
Then early this year the FLRA board—still with a 2-1 Republican majority at the time—rejected the union’s request to reconsider its earlier ruling and the board majority criticized their agency’s own officials for not enforcing the original decision over the time since it was issued.
However, the FLRA may well change its position regarding union eligibility for the immigration judges because the confirmation in May of a Democrat to replace one of the former Republican members has changed control of the board. The question meanwhile is also pending before a federal appeals court.