Ruling upholds results of DHS union election

A Federal Labor Relations Authority office on Wednesday rejected allegations of procedural flaws and bias in an election to determine union representation for about 20,000 Homeland Security Department employees.

The FLRA's Washington, D.C., regional office found that the American Federation of Government Employees did not present substantial enough evidence to support its claims that agency managers and internal processes tilted the election in favor of its opponent -- the National Treasury Employees Union.

The FLRA office directed certification of NTEU as the winner "without any further delay" unless AFGE files an appeal with the full labor board.

AFGE officials are reviewing the decision, a spokeswoman said, and have yet to determine whether they will seek such a review. They would have 60 days, or until March 19, to do so.

The battle between the two major federal labor unions began when the Customs and Border Protection bureau sought to consolidate non-Border Patrol employees -- represented by three different unions based on the agencies they had worked for prior to the March 2003 creation of DHS -- under a single labor group.

In a tally last June, NTEU came out ahead, with 7,369 votes. AFGE received 3,426 votes and the rest of the 11,006 employees who cast ballots selected an option for no union. The third union, which had represented agriculture inspectors, was not on the ballot.

Complaints rejected in Wednesday's decision fell into seven categories, including changes to working conditions that allegedly favored NTEU, the withholding of information that would have helped AFGE's campaign and interference with AFGE efforts to hold meetings with employees during the campaign.

"This decision represents a significant step forward in the unification of CBP's workforce, particularly at the ports of entry," agency spokeswoman Lynn Hollinger said in an e-mail message.

AFGE remained committed to its CBP members -- who came to DHS largely from the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- while it protested the election results, the spokeswoman said.

But NTEU President Colleen Kelley said these employees, along with agriculture inspectors and new hires, are missing out on opportunities while the complaint process plays out.

"I continue to hope that the AFGE leadership will act in the best interest of CBP employees and refrain from further delaying certification [of the election results] with a final, baseless appeal," Kelley said in a statement.

In the meantime, NTEU chapter leaders have been preparing for the new groups of employees they will represent, Kelley said, and are developing proposals for contract negotiations that will be submitted as soon as the election results are certified. A top priority for NTEU will be pursuing foreign language skills award payments for immigration employees, agriculture specialists and other new members.

Other issues that could reach the table include work assignments, bid and rotation procedures, overtime and alternative work schedules.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.