The main federal agency tasked with resolving workplace disputes was charged with failing to negotiate with its own employees’ union, according to reports Thursday.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) oversees a long list of various labor disputes on a nearly constant basis. The board was founded in 1935 with the express purpose of resolving workplace disputes, but has been accused in recent years of being biased in favor of unions. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) found the board failed to negotiate with its own employees’ union.
“The issue before me is whether, by participating in the two days of negotiating called for in the ground rules agreement, the Agency fulfilled its statutory duty to bargain,” the FLRA decision stated. “I conclude that the Union did not waive its right to bargain until either an agreement was reached or the parties had come to an impasse.”
The FLRA operates very much like the NLRB but oversees federal agencies and their employees. The decision was first issued Feb. 11, but remained unnoticed until it was first reported by Politico. The dispute stems from a decision by the NLRB to move its main office to a different location within Washington D.C. The NLRB Union requested the move be negotiated which the two sides agreed to after setting ground rules. A stipulation within the ground rules limited negotiations to just two days.
“During these negotiations, the Agency spokesman stated that the Agency did not have information on, and had not made a decision about, several issues raised in the Union’s proposal,” the decision also noted. “A few days later, the Union tried to initiate mediation of the disputes, but the Agency refused to participate.”
The NLRB offered to negotiate into the night on the second day, but the union declined to stay after 6:30pm. The board than declared the negotiations were terminated and began unilaterally making decisions on the few lingering issues. The board argues it was justified in doing so because the ground rules stipulated negotiations only had to last for two days. Nevertheless the FLRA ruled the board could have reasonably resolved the issues if it was patient.
The NLRB has been ordered to post notices in its national and regional offices declaring it will abide by the same workplace conduct it orders private sector businesses to follow. NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and General Counsel Richard Griffin will have to sign each notice.
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