Legal Reference

An unfair labor practice, or ULP, is a violation of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (a grievance, on the other hand, addresses a violation or interpretation of the parties’ negotiated agreement; see above).

An individual employee, a union or management can file a ULP charge. The respondent will always be either management or the union; such a complaint can’t be filed against an individual. The statute lays out a list of barred practices, many of which have to do with the relationship between the union and management. Some directly address the status of employees, however.


For example, it is an unfair labor practice for either management or a union to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise by the employee of any right under this the federal labor relations statute.

Management can neither encourage nor discourage membership in any labor organization by discrimination in connection with hiring, tenure, promotion, or other conditions of employment, and cannot discipline or discriminate against employees who file complaints under the statute.

Unions can nether cause nor attempt to cause an agency to discriminate against any employee in the exercise by the employee of any right under the statute. Most ULP charges are filed by the union against management. The most common ULP charge alleges that management failed to bargain in good faith, generally for not advising the union of proposed changes to conditions of employment and unilaterally implementing the changes.