The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia June 22 denied a motion by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) that sought to dismiss a lawsuit filed by AFGE challenging the constitutionality of appointments to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP). This clears a significant legal hurdle for the union and will allow the case to proceed.
“Although the judge has not ruled on the merits of the case, this is a great procedural victory in AFGE’s fight against these illegal appointments,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said.
The case, filed on behalf of AFGE’s Council 222 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, argues that the manner in which members of the panel are appointed violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution because those members wield substantial power over federal sector labor relations but are not appointed with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
Among other things, the panel has the power to impose binding contract terms on federal agencies and labor unions. The case also challenges the panel’s ability to act without a chairman and at least six members, as required by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
The Authority and the Panel
The statute allows federal employees to join a union and collectively negotiate with their agencies on issues affecting working conditions. The statute also created the FLRA, which functions to implement the statute 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 FSIP is a component agency within the FLRA which resolves impasses in contract negotiations between agencies and unions. If the union and the agency can’t reach an agreement during contract negotiations, either party or both parties can request the FSIP’s assistance. The FSIP wields enormous power over federal unions and their employing agencies. The FSIP can issue an order binding on the parties for the duration of a 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 locals and councils in a rush to send the cases to the stacked FSIP. These actions have resulted in FSIP rubber-stamping anti-worker proposals from agencies.
AFGE HUD Council 222 is not alone in challenging the constitutionality of the appointments of members to the FSIP. The NVAC and SSA Council have filed similar challenges.