Fedweek

Timing of changes will vary according to when existing contracts expire.

The lifting of a court injunction against most of three executive orders opens the door for potentially major changes in many areas in federal labor-management relations, especially regarding what agencies will negotiate over, how long they will bargain, and how quick they will be to invoke outside intervention.

Exactly when such changes could occur would vary, though, depending on when current contracts expire. After that a bargaining process would lie ahead, and after that the likelihood that unions will file unfair labor practice complaints and/or negotiability appeals before the FLRA—whose decisions in turn can be appealed into the federal courts.

The previously enjoined provisions tell agencies that in negotiations they are to:

* set time frames for negotiating ground rules and then for reaching a contract, invoke mediation if the issues are not resolved within those limits, and invoke the Federal Service Impasses Panel to resolve any remaining disputes afterward;

* refuse to bargain over matters that are negotiable at management’s discretion under labor-management law (which involve matters such as how many and which types of employees to assign to a task and how it is carried out);

* not commit to providing “performance improvement periods” before taking disciplinary action on performance grounds of longer than 30 days;

* stop providing unions with free use of office space and agency equipment;

* agree to no more than one hour of official time per bargaining unit employee annually, bar employees who use official time from being in that status more than a quarter of working hours, require management approval of official time, and bar use of official time to pursue grievances of disciplinary matters on behalf of other employees; and

* exclude from negotiated grievance procedures challenges to removals for either poor performance or misconduct, the assignment of performance ratings, or the award of any form of monetary incentive.

The injunction had left undisturbed several other union-related provisions, however. Those included central coordination of management policies and practices on bargaining, and reporting by agencies to OPM on the terms of contracts and arbitration awards affecting them.