An item in our weekly email generated the following question:
You mentioned in one of your recent newsletters that an FLRA decision illustrated union activity “that very clearly crossed the line.” As our relationship with the union here is standoffish in its best moments, I’d like to know what exactly the union did to cross that line so that a union rep could be disciplined.
Dear loyal FELTG reader,
First, thank you for subscribing to our weekly email and monthly newsletter.
What you read was a teaser, enticing you to register for Ann Boehm’s two-hour training session Drawing the Line: Union Representation or Misconduct on Jan. 19 at 1 pm ET. In that training session, Ann will discuss every angle of this topic, from determining what kinds of union activity are protected to how to discipline disruptive behavior that is not protected. And she’ll discuss the arbitrator and, eventually, FLRA decision in Bremerton Metal Trades Council, 73 FLRA 90 (2022).
So, you want to know: What did the union rep do in Bremerton that warranted discipline?
Well, the union rep, according to statements obtained by the agency, used the following words to describe colleagues — ’r—ard,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘slow,’ ‘f—king p—sy,’ ‘f—king idiot,’ and ‘god d—n r—ard.’ The rep created a toxic and uncomfortable work environment. The rep’s behavior was so bad, it caused a chief steward to experience three panic attacks over a one-month period, with the last one landing him in the hospital.
The arbitrator sided with the agency’s decision to discipline the rep for her “confrontational and bullying” behavior because the conduct was “flagrant or otherwise outside the bounds of protected activity.” The arbitrator also noted that the bullying behavior was for the grievant’s own benefit, and it was not provoked. The FLRA concurred.
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