In a major victory for AFGE, the Supreme Court May 18 ruled in favor of the union, preserving collective bargaining rights for dual-status technicians working for National Guards in a civilian role.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has jurisdiction over labor disputes between the dual-status technicians and the National Guards, saying the state National Guard “acts as a federal agency for purposes of the [Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute] when it hires and supervises dual-status technicians serving in their civilian role.”
“This is a major victory for union rights before a conservative Supreme Court that has not been friendly to unions in recent years,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “I want to thank the incredibly talented team in AFGE’s General Counsel’s Office who took this issue on — especially Deputy General Counsel Andy Grajales. He delivered oral arguments before the justices and gave a winning performance that should make every member proud to be part of the talented team at AFGE.”
AFGE represents more than 32,000 National Guard dual-status technicians in every state except Mississippi.
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court by the Ohio National Guard, which in 2016 unilaterally ended a collective bargaining agreement with AFGE Local 3970 when its then contract expired. Despite a more than 40-year history of bargaining with AFGE and its dual status technicians, Ohio claimed that technicians had no collective bargaining rights and that it was not bound by the Federal Service Labor Management Relations Statute.
AFGE subsequently filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the FLRA, in which Ohio claimed the Guard was not an “agency” and so the FLRA had no jurisdiction over it.
AFGE argued that the statutes governing civilian technicians are unique in creating a group of employees – dual status technicians – who are federal employees with collective bargaining rights but who are subject to hiring, day-to-day supervision, and firing by an adjutant general, who is a state entity for other purposes unrelated to technicians’ civilian conditions of employment.
In the first victory for AFGE, the administrative law judge ruled that the FLRA had jurisdiction over the matter, that dual-status technicians had collective bargaining rights, and that the Guard’s action in ending the bargaining agreement violated the FSLMRS.
The Ohio National Guard appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which rejected its argument.
The Guard subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, in which AFGE Deputy General Counsel for Litigation Andres Grajales and Assistant General Counsel Matt Milledge argued for AFGE earlier this year.