Federal Manager's Daily Report

A coalition of federal employee unions is opposing a potential restriction against using official time for lobbying Congress, saying it would be contrary a series of laws dating back more than 100 years stating that federal employees acting as representatives of a union are free to express views to Congress.

The comments came in response to a recent FLRA notice inviting input on the issue, part of an overall focus during the Trump administration on official time, which is on-the-clock time that federal employees with union roles can spend on certain union-related business.

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While using federal agency funds to lobby for or against any existing or potential policy or law is generally prohibited, FLRA has interpreted a provision of federal labor-management law as allowing official time for certain activities that otherwise might be considered prohibited lobbying. That provision grants employees acting in a union capacity “the right to present the views of their labor organization to Congress.”

In a submission to the FLRA, the unions wrote that both that agency and the federal courts have held that there is no requirement that such communications be done on non-duty time, and that the only restriction on the allowable uses of official time under federal labor-management law involves internal union business.

“Congress expressly provided that union representatives would advocate and present their views of the labor organization to Congress while on official time,” they wrote.

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2020 Federal Employees Handbook