WASHINGTON – The Federal Labor Relations Authority has found the Department of Education guilty of 14 violations of labor law under the previous administration as charged by the American Federation of Government Employees.
“Under the Trump administration, the Department of Education engaged in a three-year campaign to strip its employees of their fundamental rights and destroy their union,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “Now that the FLRA has affirmed these charges, we look forward to working with the department’s new leadership to restore employees’ rights and ensure workers are made whole for losses resulting from these illegal actions.”
In total, AFGE filed 14 unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against the Department of Education between March 2018 and August 2020 for violating the Federal Labor-Management Relations Statute. In July, FLRA consolidated the 14 charges into one complaint and ordered a hearing to be held in November before an administrative law judge.
The department failed to respond to the FLRA before the deadline – essentially admitting to the 80-some violations of law contained within the 14 cases. In response, AFGE filed a motion in September for a summary judgment, which Administrative Law Judge David Welch granted on Oct. 29.
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.
“While most other agencies have been working to undo the anti-labor actions of the previous administration and work with unions in good faith, the Department of Education so far has failed to do so by allowing these illegal actions to stand,” Kelley said. “Now that the FLRA has found the department guilty of these violations, it’s time for the department to restore workers’ bargaining rights and work with the union to settle all outstanding litigation matters and move forward to build a better relationship with the union and the employees we represent.”