The labor relations law established a procedure by which employees,
unions, and agencies can complain of and obtain correction of violations of
the law. Such violations are called unfair labor practices and are filed
with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). And if an unfair labor
practice – ULP for short – is found, a remedy can be ordered to repair
whatever harm was caused by the violation.
- A ULP can be filed by an employee, the union or management. However, most
unfair labor practices are filed by unions against agencies.
Amongst many different violations that may occur, the majority of ULP
charges against management allege a failure to bargain with a union
concerning conditions of employment for bargaining unit employees.
If a union felt that management had made a change affecting bargaining unit employees without allowing the union a chance to bargain, it could file a charge with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
- There are differences between grievances and ULPs. The differences relate
mainly to the nature of the disagreement between the parties and the
resolution procedure used to resolve the disagreement. Grievances relate to
disagreements over the interpretation and application of a collective
bargaining agreement between union or management or agency personnel
regulations and may be decided by an arbitrator. ULPs are related to
disagreements over the coverage and meaning of the labor law and are decided
by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
Failure to notify the union of a change in a condition of employment for one or more bargaining unit employees is an unfair labor (i.e., Failure to notify the union that you were changing Jane Does work schedule could result in an unfair labor practice).
- A ULP may be filed anytime within 6 months of the date the wronged party
became aware of the violation of the labor law.
- The FLRA decides ULPs and determines the remedy. The FLRA may prescribe
whatever remedy is necessary to correct the ULP. This may include revoking
the management action that caused the ULP in the first place, and requiring
management to go back to the situation as it existed before the ULP.
Generally, however, the remedy consists of requiring the guilty party to
sign and post a notice to employees which indicates that it will stop
committing the ULP and that it will not take such actions in the future.
Servicing Command Staff Advisors or HR Specialists will work with management to attempt
resolution of an Unfair Labor Practice before a decision is made.
- Avoiding ULP charges is not a matter that is completely within the control
of agency management. Employees and unions are free to file a charge
whenever they want. There is no standard of quality of likely merit that
charges must have before being investigated by the FLRA.