Shortly before the 2020 presidential election, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) issued a series of decisions overturning their own longstanding precedent and practice. The major swings in what was thought to be well-established precedent posed a challenge for practitioners who need to stay constantly informed about the current state of the law. But, the change in course from decades of precedent had the most detrimental impact on the very labor-management relationships that the FLRA was designed to oversee.
Thankfully, not all of these changes have been long lived. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently issued a ruling overturning one such detrimental FLRA decision from 2020. The ruling marks the third time this year that a FLRA decision has been overturned.
The most recent case decided by the D.C. Circuit is NTEU v. FLRA, No. 20-1400 (D.C. Cir. 08/02/22) and can be read here: 20-1400-1957455.pdf (uscourts.gov)
The earlier two decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit were issued within a week of one another, and similar to the most recent ruling, the decisions reversed the FLRA’s 2020 changes to longstanding labor-management relations practice and law.
In AFGE v. FLRA, No. 20-1396 (D.C. Cir. 02/01/22), the D.C. Circuit pointed out that the FLRA’s deliberate change in the standard used to trigger management’s duty to bargain went against 35 years of practice. The court in that decision concluded that the FLRA failed to “engage in reasoned decision-making.” The full decision can be read here: 20-1396-1933161.pdf (uscourts.gov)
In AFGE v. FLRA, No. 20-1398 (D.C. Cir. 01/28/22), the D.C. Circuit reversed two major changes made by the FLRA in a 2020 policy statement issued at request of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The court’s decision can be read here: 20-1398-1932679.pdf (uscourts.gov)