Agencies get green light to try expanding collective bargaining topics

The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations on Monday gave federal agencies the go-ahead to develop plans for implementing pilot programs expanding union bargaining.

During its monthly meeting, the council approved a working group report that asks participating agencies to submit within 45 days proposals for programs to test bargaining over issues not normally subject to negotiation in the federal sector. These so-called (b)(1) bargaining issues include the number and qualifications of employees assigned to work on projects, the technology involved and the work methods. Once the strategies have been approved, agencies will have 120 days to plan, organize and train pilot personnel. They are to start the test runs no later than November.

The working group, which had 21 representatives from labor and management, developed criteria for the pilot programs. Each will cover at least 500 bargaining unit employees or involve a "significant agency process." The working group divided (b)(1) issues into two groups. The first includes numbers, types and grades of employees or positions assigned to any organizational subdivision, work project or tour of duty; the second includes technology, and methods or means of performing work. The pilot programs must cover at least one issue from each category and one from both categories.

Several council members expressed concern these narrow programs would fail to offer a full picture of how expanding bargaining to include all (b)(1) issues would affect agencies and unions.

"I believe that pilots which bargain over one category here, one category there, are not additive to simulate the totality of the experience of bargaining over the full range of issues," said Carol A. Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association. "I'm concerned it could result in actually having no pilot which bargains over the full range of issues."

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry assured the council OPM's pilot will cover all the issues.

Scott Gould, who served on the working group and presented its report to the council, said the group was very focused on ensuring that everyone who will be negotiating (b)(1) subjects under the pilot programs -- managers, supervisors, union representatives and members of the labor-management forums -- receives joint training.

"This is a key element," Gould said. "We believe the pilots are more likely to be successful if it is the case that we train and train well and train together."

The working group suggested the Federal Labor Relations Authority help with training.

Discussion about the pilot programs was extensive, but Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management and chief performance officer at the Office of Management and Budget, urged members not to get bogged down in the details.

"We could fall into a little bit of a trap of the perfect being the enemy of the good here if we don't get going," Zients said.

The council will have agencies' pilot plans by September, and will meet at that time to discuss and approve them.

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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