By Michael Rhoads, November 16, 2021

If your agency’s union hasn’t already started the process of renegotiating your collective bargaining agreement, then now is the time to consider what your strategy will be when the union does come calling.

When it comes to negotiability, management holds most of the cards. Management typically determines whether a union proposal must be bargained, whether an arbitrator’s award is improper because it abrogates a management right, and whether management-initiated changes must be bargained substantively, or only as to its impact and implementation.

Luckily, management rights are already outlined in 5 USC 7106(a).

(a) Subject to subsection (b) of this section, nothing in this chapter shall affect the authority of any management official of any agency—

(1) to determine the mission, budget, organization, number of employees, and internal security practices of the agency; and

(2) in accordance with applicable laws—

(A) to hire, assign, direct, layoff, and retain employees in the agency, or to suspend, remove, reduce in grade or pay, or take other disciplinary action against such employees;

(B) to assign work, to make determinations with respect to contracting out, and to determine the personnel by which agency operations shall be conducted;

(C) with respect to filling positions, to make selections for appointments from—

(I) among properly ranked and certified candidates for promotion; or

(ii) any other appropriate source; and

(D) to take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out the agency mission during emergencies.

One recent example of how the FLRA has decided on management rights is Indep. Union of Pension Emp. for Democracy & Just., 72 FLRA 281 (2021). The Authority ruled in favor of the agency terminating a special achievement awards program, which interfered with management’s right to determine its budget.  However, Chairman DuBester partially dissented because the program does not dictate the amount the Agency must allocate to its overall awards budget.  Rather, it determines the portion of this budgeted amount that will be devoted to a particular type of award.  FLRA Quarterly Digest Report: April 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021.

To catch you up on the latest FLRA decisions and the current state of federal LR, mark this date on your calendar: January 13. We’ll be announcing a two-hour LR training program shortly. Keep an eye on FELTG’s website for more details.

Happy Thanksgiving, stay safe, and remember, we’re all in this together. [email protected]

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