FLRA Orders Trial on Union-Busting Charges at Education Department

Categories: Education, The Insider

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has ordered a hearing into 14 charges of labor law violations brought by AFGE against the Department of Education under the previous administration. 

AFGE, which is the exclusive representative for nearly 4,000 Department of Education employees nationwide, filed its first unfair labor practice charge against the department in March 2018 after management refused to bargain in good faith with the union over a new contact and instead imposed its own illegal management edict on the workforce.  

Four months later, the FLRA announced that its investigator had found merit in the union’s ULP charge. Yet the agency refused to comply with the finding – and could not be compelled to do so due to the Trump administration’s failure to appoint a FLRA general counsel, who is the only person authorized to issue formal complaints. 

In the months and years since, the department continued to violate labor law in myriad ways. It implemented changes to telework policies, imposed new employee performance standards, reorganized the chief information officer’s office, and relocated both the Chicago and Dallas regional offices all without negotiating with the union.  

It also denied union leaders the ability to provide fair representation to employees, refused to recognize union leaders in its regional offices, and refused to negotiate over labor-management changes ordered by President Trump. 

In total, AFGE filed 14 ULP charges against the Department of Education between March 2018 and August 2020.  

FLRA has consolidated the 14 charges into one complaint and ordered a hearing to be held Nov. 2 before an administrative law judge. In detailing all of the charges, FLRA concludes that the department has violated the Federal Labor-Management Relations Statute in each instance. 

President Biden has ordered agencies to undo the anti-labor actions of the previous administration and work with unions in good faith, yet the Department of Education has failed to do so by allowing these illegal actions to stand. 

It’s time for the department to settle these charges and restore workers’ bargaining rights, which is not only the lawful thing to do but the right thing to do in the interest of good government and public service. 

Unless current department leaders come to the table and settle these outstanding labor violations, AFGE will need to move forward with this hearing so the FLRA can order the agency to undo these unlawful actions and restore workers’ collective bargaining rights. 


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