OPM has issued a set of memos either requiring or encouraging agencies to go up to the limits of federal labor law in actions to support unions in the federal workplace, the latest in a series of steps under Biden administration executive orders of last year reversing its predecessor’s policies of limiting management’s responsibilities to the minimum required by that law.
“OPM is proud to work on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration to identify the policies, practices, and programs that can bolster worker power, worker organizing, and collective bargaining,” the agency said in each of the three, which addressed three areas important to unions: organizing, dues withholding and communication with employees (see related story).
A memo on management actions during union organizing says that the law “does allow agencies to (1) publicize the fact of a representational election and encourage employees to exercise their right to vote in such election; (2) correct the record with respect to any false or misleading statement made by any person; or (3) inform employees of the government’s policy relating to labor-management relations and representation if these activities do not contain any threats of reprisal or promise of a benefit and was not made under coercive conditions.”
The memo also “strongly encourages” agencies to: include in regular labor relations training of agency managers and supervisors information on maintaining neutrality during union organizing campaigns such as the attached recommended training materials; and advise managers and supervisors to seek advice from the agency’s labor relations office or legal office prior to getting involved in or commenting on union elections and membership activities.
A memo on payroll deductions for union dues reminds agencies that such deductions are to be made at no cost to either the union or the employee and adds that “such requests should be processed expeditiously.”
It also tells agencies that they must: process requests related to payroll deductions for labor organization dues as quickly and accurately as possible; and provide access to the appropriate forms, if applicable, to request or cancel payroll deductions for labor organization dues and periodically communicate to bargaining unit employees where this information can be readily obtained.