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Labor Authority Launches Video Training Series

Officials hope a new series of animated videos will inform federal employees about labor-management issues in bite-sized portions.

Officials at the agency responsible for overseeing labor-management relations across the federal government hope a series of new training videos will help federal employees better understand their rights and responsibilities under federal labor law.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority published a series of animated videos last month explaining the various elements of investigatory examinations, what triggers an employee’s right to union representation, and unfair labor practice complaints. The effort, which began last year and is spearheaded by acting General Counsel Charlotte Dye, is not the first foray into video training materials for the agency, which has been exploring the tool for years as budgets for in-person coaching at agencies declined.

“We did previously have training videos up already that involved specific topics, where certain regional office employees stood in front of our old web communications things, and they just sort of stood in front of it and did a training like we would do in front a group, but because of funding issues, we really hadn’t been able to go out and do much training over the years,” Dye said. “But then-Chairwoman [Colleen Duffy] Kiko—I don’t know exactly [how] she came across it—but I think she had come across some animated training videos and she thought they were really cool, so we looked into it.”

Each of the videos clock in at under 10 minutes and feature FLRA employees explaining a specific aspect of the statute governing employee rights to union representation under the federal labor statute, commonly called Weingarten rights, and the unfair labor practice process. They range in complexity from seemingly simple topics, like “Who is an agency representative,” to more complicated issues, like the definition of “reasonable fear” as it pertains to employee investigations. The aim is for the videos to be helpful both to labor and management representatives and federal employees writ large.

“They’re for all of the parties that come before us: federal agencies, federal employees, and the labor organizations that represent those federal employees,” Dye said. “The first ones we wanted to do were really the basic building blocks of federal labor law. Those are the easiest for us to learn from in terms of how we do the animation, but in the future, we’ll be putting out some more meaty ones . . . We’ve found that people may know that they have a right to union representation, but they don’t know a lot about it. They don’t understand what can be a request for representation, that there can be a lot of different ways you can request [it].”

Dye said there are plans to do another in-depth set of videos exploring agencies’ duty to bargain, although it may take some time to put together, as her office is focused on ramping up its handling of pending unfair labor practice complaints following four years of her position remaining vacant under the Trump administration. But she said other offices within FLRA are also exploring video training as a communications tool.

“We, the general counsel’s office, have a plan to come up with different statutory trainings, and I’m sure that the [newly reinstated] Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Office will work on their own set of videos, more about maintaining labor management relationships,” Dye said. “I know the authority itself has plans to do training videos on their side of things, particularly negotiability. That’s one of the things they handle a lot, so they’ll come up with the contents for that kind of video, and likely on arbitration as well.”