WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees has charged the National Park Service with violating federal labor law by knowingly permitting an agency manager to file a petition seeking to decertify the AFGE local representing NPS employees at the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The management official, Erin Lamm, accepted a position outside of the bargaining unit on or about July 1, yet management is continuing to allow her to seek decertification of AFGE’s local.
“By allowing Ms. Lamm to seek to decertify AFGE’s Blue Ridge Parkway bargaining unit following her change in position, the Agency violated its duty of neutrality in representation elections,” AFGE asserts in an unfair labor practice charge filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority on Oct. 3.
Early last year, a group of Blue Ridge Parkway employees represented by another union approached AFGE and expressed interest in changing affiliation to AFGE. They filed a petition with the FLRA in February 2021 requesting reaffiliation, which was approved the following month.
Because AFGE already had a local representing another group of Blue Ridge Parkway employees, AFGE Local 446, the union filed a petition requesting a consolidation of the two units to promote effective representation and dealings within the agency and to reduce unit fragmentation. No bargaining unit employees requested an election during the consolidation process or raised objections to the consolidation, which the FLRA approved in September 2021.
In December, with the backing of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Lamm filed a petition seeking to decertify the newly consolidated unit. The FLRA’s regional director rejected the petition in March 2022, in keeping with a longstanding policy in federal sector labor relations that prohibits decertification attempts on unions within the first 12 months of certification.
Lamm appealed for a review by the full FLRA, which the agency granted in July and asked both sides to submit legal arguments. Lamm submitted her response in September, even though she had been promoted to a management position and no longer meets the legal requirement to proceed with the case.
“By allowing an employee no longer in the bargaining unit to continue pursuing decertification of our local, the National Park Service is blatantly violating the law in an attempt to avoid negotiating with us on a new contract to represent employees at the newly consolidated unit,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “Every employee deserves fair representation at the worksite, and we will not stand by while this agency tries to run out the clock and make it easier to decertify the union.”