AFGE VA Council Sues Biased FLRA, Impasses Panel

Categories: VA, The Insider

The AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council (NVAC) is suing the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) and its parent agency, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) for illegally appointing impasses panel members.

The FSIP resolves impasses in contract negotiations, but the panel has failed to adhere to its principle of impartiality after being packed with anti-union zealots during the Trump administration.

“No agency is above the law and these members were appointed illegally,” said Alma Lee, president of AFGE’s NVAC which represents over 260,000 employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “It is our hope that the court recognizes this for what it is – an attempt to force anti-employee policies into union contracts through FSIP.”

According to the NVAC’s complaint:

  1. Appointed FSIP members were not confirmed by the Senate as required under the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution
  2. The recently appointed FSIP members do not meet the fitness requirements required by the Civil Service Reform Act
  3. Many of the recently appointed members’ current anti-union activities create a bias that deprives unions of due process under the U.S. Constitution.

The council is seeking several remedies, including a declaration that the panel is not properly constituted, that their decisions be declared null and void, and that they be enjoined from issuing further decisions until they are properly constituted.


The FLRA was created by the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, which allows federal employees to join a union and collectively negotiate with their agencies on issues affecting working conditions. The FLRA’s job is to implement the law and promote effective labor-management relations. Federal employee unions go to the FLRA to challenge agencies’ unfair labor practices (ULPs) or failures to follow their own policies, among other things.

But under the Trump administration, the FLRA’s mission has been skewed to reflect the administration’s political agenda of decimating the federal workforce and taking away your protections as a union-represented employee.

The FLRA has another component: The FSIP, which resolves impasses in contract negotiations. If the union and the agency can’t reach an agreement during contract negotiations, either party or both parties can request the panel’s assistance. The impasses panel wields enormous power over federal unions and their employing agencies. The panel can issue an order binding on the parties for the duration of the labor-management contract. The current FSIP is stacked with Trump-appointed members.

Following Trump’s anti-worker executive orders, agencies have abandoned contract negotiations with AFGE in a rush to send the cases to the stacked FSIP, which has repeatedly ruled against our union under this administration.

“The panel takes these actions with no supervision whatsoever. Its rulings are final, binding, and immune from judicial review,” the NVAC’s complaint states. “Because they exercise “significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States,” panel members must be appointed pursuant to the strictures of the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution, with confirmation by the U.S. Senate. And, given their enormous power, panel members must remain scrupulously neutral.”

Lee said she was shocked at the lengths this administration will go to fulfill their union-busting agenda.

“Now the improperly appointed FSIP members are thumbing their noses at Congress’ bargaining process too,” she added.

The council worked with the firm of Massey & Gail, LLP, to file the complaint with the assistance of the AFGE’s General Counsel’s Office.

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