By Ann Boehm, February 14, 2023
On Jan. 3, 2023, FLRA Chairman Ernest DuBester’s term ended. This means the FLRA currently has only two members: now-Chairman Susan Tsui Grundmann, Democrat, and Member Colleen Duffy Kiko, Republican. With two members, the FLRA has a quorum that can continue to issue decisions. But will that happen with two members from different political parties? Several things indicate the answer to that question is, “yes.”
Let’s start by looking at what has happened since Jan. 3, 2023. The FLRA has issued six decisions since that date. That indicates that these two members, from different political parties, can indeed agree and issue decisions.
There is also historical information that suggests the FLRA will continue to issue decisions, even with two members from different political parties. From May 2000 to November 2000, Democrat Don Wasserman and Republican Dale Cabaniss were the FLRA’s members. They issued 100 decisions during that time. That means they agreed 100 times.
From August 1995 to February 1996, Democrat Phyllis Segal and Republican Tony Armendariz were the FLRA’s members. They issued 67 decisions during that time. That means they agreed 67 times.
Weird, isn’t it? People from different political parties can actually agree on something.
The FLRA has been around since 1978. Throughout its existence, we have seen that Republican members can be a little more pro-agency, and Democratic members can be a little more pro-union. But there are limitations on how those tendencies impact on FLRA member decisions.
For one thing, the FLRA members are charged with interpreting the very detailed Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. It says what it says.
In addition, the FLRA members have guidance from 44 years of FLRA case law interpreting that same statute. There are also 40-plus years of decisions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court interpreting that statute.
So, what does this all mean? Chairman Grundmann and Member Kiko are likely to issue a lot of decisions while they serve together. If they disagree, there is no quorum, and no decision will issue. History suggests we will not see that occur often. And that’s Good News. Boehm@FELTG.com