The FLRA has asked for comments on whether it should further restrict the allowable uses of official time—on-the-clock time that federal employees with union roles can spend on certain union-related business—in what would be the latest in a series of such restrictions under the Trump administration.
The FLRA asked for views on potential guidance to disallow bargaining over union proposals for official time on grounds that the time would involve lobbying Congress; using federal agency funds to lobby for or against any existing or potential policy or law is generally prohibited.
However, the FLRA traditionally has interpreted a provision of federal labor-management law—granting employees acting in a union representational capacity “the right to present the views of their labor organization to Congress”—as allowing official time for certain activities that otherwise might be considered prohibited lobbying.
The Federal Register notice was a response to a request by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to issue a statement that in the labor-management statute Congress “did not expressly authorize the use of appropriated funds for union lobbying activities . . . and, therefore, the statute does not permit parties to bargain over, or union representatives to use, official time for lobbying activities.”