OPM has told agencies to highlight information about the existence of unions and labor rights in the federal workplace to current, prospective and incoming employees, although stopping just short of explicitly recommending that employees become dues-paying union members.
In a pair of memos, OPM carried out an initial recommendation of the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, which was created by an April executive order to “encourage worker organizing and collective bargaining” in workplaces including the federal workplace. That group is to issue additional recommendations in the coming weeks.
“A key goal of the Task Force is for the federal government to lead by example as a model employer in promoting worker organizing and collective bargaining. In support of this goal, the Office of Personnel Management is evaluating actions Executive Branch agencies can take to help promote worker organizing and collective bargaining consistent with the requirements” under federal labor-management law, the memo on new employees says.
The memo regarding current employees “strongly encourages” agencies to provide notice of union rights on a quarterly or biannual basis, which “should highlight their rights to join a union and the contact information of their union representative.” It includes a recommended template to provide that information.
An accompanying question and answer document includes instructions on how to become a dues-paying union member and cites law allowing employees to solicit co-workers to join a union so long as both are off duty at the time, including while on lunch break.
The memo regarding new employees similarly “strongly encourages” agencies to include on vacancy announcements whether the position is in a bargaining unit and if so the contact information for the union—some agencies already do so, it says—and to provide newly hired employees who are in bargaining units with information about their rights under the labor law.
That memo also calls on agencies to allow union representatives to be present at new employee orientation sessions, which it says some also already do. A union could “advise bargaining unit employees that the union is the exclusive representative; describe the bargaining unit it represents; and provide contact information on where union representatives can be reached.”
While a union could not solicit employees to become dues-paying members during such sessions, it could do so during breaks, the memo adds.