FLRA Found Merit in AFGE Local’s ULP Charge Against EEOC

Categories: The Insider

Congratulations to AFGE Local 3599 for their representational efforts to address the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s failure to negotiate with the union before making changes that affect working conditions at several EEOC facilities. 

AFGE Local 3599, the largest AFGE EEOC local representing approximately 300 bargaining unit employees in 14 offices, filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the Fair Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) when Miami EEOC management made changes to how they process discrimination charges that have significant importance.  

The change caused great hardship to frontline investigative staff because these cases are complex, involve multiple victims of discrimination, and the impact of the processing change caused fears of poor performance ratings. Investigators are also concerned that the processing change could harm those filing EEOC complaints who are waiting for justice. 

When the local alerted management that they had skipped over their obligation to negotiate the impact of the changes, management refused. So, the union filed a ULP.  

“Don't let management tell you your concern is less than de minimis- if they do, then let the ‘experts’ – the FLRA – make the call,” said AFGE Local 3599 President Sharon Baker. 

The FLRA did a preliminary investigation and found merit to the ULP. The authority has now issued a complaint that alleges that EEOC committed violations of the statute by making changes that substantially impacted working conditions, by not providing notice to the union and an opportunity to bargain the impact, by refusing to negotiate the impact, by bypassing the union, and interfering with and restraining the union from exercising its right under the statute.  

The next step in the process is a hearing before an administrative law judge, though the parties are permitted to attempt a settlement.   

“This complaint issued by the FLRA is important because in the former administration management became accustomed to not honoring their obligations to the bargaining unit that is guaranteed by law. This has been slow to change, particularly on the local level, despite the election and new agency leadership,” said AFGE Local Chief Steward Max Feige. “This complaint is just the beginning in re-training EEOC management that a working relationship with the union is not only the law but good government, and good for the stakeholders we serve as the nation’s top law enforcement agency opposing discrimination in the workplace.”  

National Council 216 President Rachel Shonfield observes, “While we have seen progress with getting several national memoranda of understandings, this has lagged on the local level. We are hopeful that this ULP will serve to change the course to more positive labor relations where there is compliance with all bargaining obligations. However, where that does not occur, locals can use this ULP as a model to seek redress.”  

Local 3599 represents investigators, investigator assistants, trial attorneys, administrative judges, paralegals, legal clerks, mediators, intake representatives, and office automation assistants located in 14 offices in Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  

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