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Labor-Management Relations Glossary


GENERAL COUNSEL. The General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority investigates unfair labor practice (ULP) charges and files and prosecutes ULP complaints. He/she also supervises the Authority's Regional Directors who, in turn, have been delegated authority by FLRA to process representation petitions.

GOOD FAITH BARGAINING. Defined by § 7114(b) as the duty to approach negotiations with a sincere resolve to reach a collective bargaining agreement, to be represented by properly authorized representatives who are prepared to discuss and negotiate on any condition of employment, to meet at reasonable times and places as frequently as may be necessary and to avoid unnecessary delays, and, in the case of the agency, to furnish upon request data necessary to negotiation. (There have been no FLRA decisions in which the Authority has addressed the issue of whether the refusal to explain or justify or otherwise discuss the meaning of proposals constitutes bad faith bargaining. However, in 54 FLRA No. 134, then Chairperson Segal, in a separate concurring opinion, took the position that the duty to bargain in good faith includes a duty to communicate). Violations of the duty to bargain in good faith are unfair labor practices. See, e.g., 6 FLRA No. 100 (refusal to bargain on a proposal substantially the same as a proposal FLRA has already found negotiable) and 18 FLRA No. 69 (surface bargaining).

GOVERNMENTWIDE REGULATIONS. Regulations issued by an agency bearing on conditions of employment that must be complied with by other agencies. Such regulations are a major limitation on agency discretion and therefore on the scope of bargaining, which presupposes agency discretion. Agencies chiefly involved in issuing such regulations are the Office of Personnel Management (on personnel management) and the General Services Administration (on property management).

Absent agreement to the contrary (see, e.g., 52 FLRA No. 128), section 7116(a)(7) makes it an unfair labor practice to enforce a midcontract change in a rule or regulation that comes into conflict with the agreement provision that was consistent with the rule or regulation in effect at the time the agreement was executed.

With respect to Governmentwide regulations, see 37 FLRA No. 104 and Legislative History of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, 96th Congress, 1st Session, Committee Print No. 96-7, p. 823.) See, also 46 FLRA No. 147, and the cases cited therein, where the Authority distinguishes between proposals that paraphrase or set forth the terms of a Governmentwide regulation and proposals merely requiring compliance with existing Governmentwide regulations. The former, by imposing an independent, contractual limitation on the agency, directly interfere with management's § 7106 rights, whereas the latter do not.

See, also, IRS v. FLRA, 996 F.2d 1246 (D.C. Cir. June 29, 1993), adopted by the Authority in 48 FLRA No. 15, where the court said the following:

We hold that if a government-wide regulation under section 7117(a) is itself the only basis for a union grievance . . . and the regulation precludes bargaining over its implementation or prohibits grievances concerning alleged violations, the Authority may not require a government agency to bargain over grievance procedures directed at implementation of the regulation. . . .

GRIEVANCE. Under § 7103(a)(9) a grievance "means any complaint--(A) by an employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee; (B) by any labor organization concerning any matter relating to the employment of any employee; or (C) by an employee, labor organization, or agency concerning--(I) the effect or interpretation, or a claim of breach, of a collective bargaining agreement; or (ii) any claimed violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any law, rule, or regulation affecting conditions of employment[.]"

In Treasury, Customs Service v. FLRA, 43 F.3d 682 (D.C. Cir. 1994), the court said that the reference to any law, rule, or regulation "can be only interpreted . . . to confine grievances to alleged violations of a statute or regulation that can be said to have been issued for the very purpose of affecting the working conditions of employees--not one that merely incidentally does so."


GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE. A systematic procedure, devised by the parties to the agreement, by which a grievance moves from one level of authority to the next higher level until it is settled, withdrawn, or referred to arbitration. Under § 7121, a collective bargaining agreement must contain a grievance procedure terminating in final and binding arbitration. Apart from matters that must by statute be excluded (such as grievances relating to retirement, health and life insurance and the classification of positions), the scope of the grievance procedure is to be negotiated by deciding what matters are to be excluded from an otherwise "full scope" procedure--i.e., a procedure that covers all the matters that it can legally cover. See NEGOTIATED GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE.

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