Union campaign raises questions about reach of Obama executive order

A campaign to organize workers at the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation is raising questions about what kinds of employers are covered under an executive order President Obama issued in January that bans agencies from paying contractors for expenses they incur in efforts to thwart unionization campaigns.

The International Federation of Technical and Professional Engineers is attempting to organize workers at the legal aid organization, which is funded entirely through federal appropriations. In a July 31 letter to lawmakers, Paul Shearon, the secretary treasurer of the union, charged that Legal Services Corporation had violated administration policy by hiring a law firm to advise it during the unionization campaign.

"Clearly, LSC's use of taxpayer monies to retain a 'union avoidance' consultant is in direct contradiction to Executive Order 13494," Shearon wrote. "IFPTE believes that LSC should not be permitted to unilaterally misuse taxpayer monies to intimidate their employees who are trying to form a union."

Though private sector companies frequently hire consultants to advise them during unionization campaigns, the practice is less common in the federal government. IFPTE sharply criticized the Government Accountability Office's former comptroller general, David M. Walker, when he hired a law firm to counsel the agency during an ultimately successful campaign by IFPTE to organize workers at GAO.

President Obama's January executive order blocked agencies from reimbursing contractors for expenses they incurred in efforts to either dissuade or persuade their employees from joining a union or bargaining for a contract as part of a union. Stephen Barr, a spokesman for the Legal Services Corporation, said it wasn't clear whether the nonprofit organization counted as a contractor, under the executive order, and that the matter is under review.

"The corporation has retained outside counsel to ensure that the relevant legal requirements for this complex area of the law are met," Barr said. "The union sent us a letter requesting voluntary recognition, which we declined, because we believe this is something the employees should vote on through a secret ballot."

IFPTE has filed a petition to hold a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.

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

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

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

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download

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