House members ask Obama to bring back labor-management partnerships

Three Democratic lawmakers have asked President Obama to restore a labor-management partnership council established by President Clinton and abolished by President Bush.

"Union leaders with whom we have spoken agree that the labor-management partnership recognized the importance of employees and their employee representatives to smooth collegial decision-making in the government," wrote Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., in a June 2 letter to the president. "The council served the essential purpose of maintaining communication between the heads of executive agencies and the president to better serve the public."

Clinton created the governmentwide National Partnership Council in a 1993 executive order, and directed agencies to establish their own groups. But Bush shut down the partnerships with a 2001 executive order. In 2007, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, introduced legislation that would have written the councils into law; the bill did not make it out of committee in either chamber of Congress.

Reviving the labor-management partnerships has been a priority for federal unions, though there has been some disagreement about the form the partnerships should take. John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, has said he would prefer a version of partnership that did not require employee and management representatives to be trained in negotiation tactics that focus on reaching compromises and consensus. Other unions have praised the Clinton-era partnerships for fostering greater collaboration between labor and management, and a number have submitted drafts of a potential executive order.

"Partnership, collaboration, cooperation -- it does not matter what it is called," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. "The idea is that a mechanism be established by which employees' voices can be heard in a nonadversarial forum where everyone retains their rights and where the objective is raising and talking through ideas that address ways to reach common goals."

Even absent an executive order, the Obama administration has shown some interest in restoring partnership. Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, voluntarily restarted EPA's partnership council. And Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said during his confirmation hearing that he wanted to increase labor-management collaboration within OPM to set a strong example for the rest of government.

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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