Unions to managers: Give employees a bigger voice in decisions

Agency managers are not doing enough to engage employees or their union representatives ahead of time in decisions that affect their daily work, members of the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations said on Wednesday.

The process of gathering employee input -- called pre-decisional involvement -- needs a jump-start, said Colleen Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, during a council meeting. Kelley's comments were prompted by a report from the council's working group on key terms and phrases.

John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, also voiced frustration to the council's chairman, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry. "A lot of people are getting soured, John, because the process is not happening," Gage said. "Let's get pre-decisional [involvement] moving."

David Holway, president of the National Association of Government Employees, a union of federal, state, county and municipal workers, suggested Berry send members of agency labor-management forums a letter, reminding them of language related to pre-decisional involvement in President Obama's December 2009 directive establishing labor-management partnerships.

According to Executive Order 13522, agencies must include pre-decisional involvement "in all workplace matters to the fullest extent practicable." Berry read the relevant text aloud to the council on Wednesday and reminded members that management is required to make an effort to include the tactic in all applicable workplace decisions.

He agreed to draft a letter with guidance -- possibly best practices -- related to pre-decisional involvement. The letter will go to members of the National Council for approval before being sent to agency forums.

The council also revisited the topic of telework on Wednesday. Patricia Niehaus, national president of the Federal Managers Association, reported that 10 members volunteered themselves or their colleagues to be part of a telework working group. The group will hold its first teleconference on Oct. 22, and is planning to collaborate with OPM's Work-Life Group and possibly the General Services Administration.

The next meeting of the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations is scheduled for Nov. 3.

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