Court strikes down FLRA attempt to restrict federal sector collective bargaining

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Washington – The American Federation of Government Employees has won a significant victory over the Federal Labor Relations Authority’s (FLRA) attempts to limit the scope of federal sector bargaining.

The case at issue involves a grievance filed by AFGE Local 1929 against the Customs and Border Protection for changing conditions of employment for vehicle inspection agents in El Paso, Texas, without first notifying and negotiating with the union, in violation of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.

After an arbitrator ruled in AFGE’s favor, the FLRA set aside the arbitrator’s award and attempted to change its longstanding interpretation of the statutory term “conditions of employment.”

But in a June 9 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the FLRA departed from precedent “based on a misreading of case law and without explaining the departure.”

“The FLRA had tried to use this case to limit workers’ bargaining rights and prevent the union from negotiating on their behalf on certain issues,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “Had the agency prevailed, it could have limited the scope of bargaining through the federal sector.”

The Court of Appeals vacated the FLRA’s decision and remanded the case to the authority for a new decision consistent with the court’s opinion.


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