WASHINGTON – The Federal Labor Relations Authority has upheld an arbitrator’s ruling in a case brought by the American Federation of Government Employees that found the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting illegally used a reduction in force action to fire union activists and other employees who had been outspoken critics of the agency.
The BBG had appealed the arbitrator’s ruling, but the FLRA rejected every argument made by the agency in its Sept. 25 decision.
“This decision should put every agency on notice that they cannot use budget shortfalls or funding cuts as an excuse to go after specific federal workers who the agency doesn’t like,” said AFGE Associate General Counsel Leisha Self, who represented the AFGE Local 1812 members in their grievance.
In a November 2011 decision, an arbitrator ruled that former Office of Cuba Broadcasting Director Pedro Roig had ordered the RIF and conducted it in such a way to target employees who had spoken out to Government Accountability Office investigators. The arbitrator discounted agency claims that the RIF was necessary because of budget shortfalls and lack of work, finding compelling evidence that Roig rejected attempts to explore cost savings in other areas before implementing a RIF. The agency also refused the union’s demand to bargain over the impact of the RIF as required under the negotiated labor-management agreement.
The FLRA’s decision clears the way for the 16 employees who were separated or otherwise affected during the RIF to be reinstated without loss of seniority or benefits, although BBG can appeal the FLRA’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.