Protecting Employee Workplace Fairness

Stern-looking man with a cigar, Collective bargaining rights for federal employees are much narrower than those in the private sector. There is no requirement that anyone become a member of a union or pay dues, even though a union that has won a representational election is required to represent every employee in the bargaining unit, whether they choose to join and pay dues or not. In addition, federal union members are prohibited by law from striking and management rights are very broad. Only frontline federal employees may join a union, supervisors and managers are not eligible to be members.

H.R. 4461, a recently‐introduced measure by Rep. Tom Price (GA‐R) would prevent federal employees‐‐who voluntarily decide to join a union‐‐ from deducting labor organization dues from their pay checks. The bill would also alter the current standard for union recognition from 50% of those individuals who cast ballots to 50% of all eligible voters in a bargaining unit.

Other bills—such as S. 2245 and S. 2246 introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R‐CO) and Tim Scott (R‐SC) and H.R. 4083 introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ‐R) would eliminate the ability of all employees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from being represented by a union. This would create a dangerous precedent.

Additionally, in recent congresses, various proposals have sought to restrict or eliminate independent reviews of agency personnel actions. The Supreme Court ruled in Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill that the U.S. Constitution requires that most government employees must be afforded due process before being terminated. Title 5 of the U.S. Code sets out the due process procedures that allow a federal employee to challenge an adverse personnel action before the Merit Systems Protection Board or, if represented by a labor union, through a negotiated grievance process. Despite some inaccurate characterizations, these due process procedures do not prevent managers from disciplining or firing nonperforming employees.

NTEU believes that maintaining the current modest due process and collective bargaining rights of federal employees ensures a fair and safe work environment, helps maintain a civil service free of the spoils system, and makes it much more likely that employees will not be afraid to blow the whistle when they see waste or wrongdoing.

NTEU urges that Congress:

  • Opposes H.R. 4461, S. 2245, S. 2246, and H.R. 4083
  • Maintain due process rights to both prevent politicization of the civil service and to protect whistleblowers

Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to support FDA employees.