Biden Nominates Ex-Merit Systems Protection Board Chair for Labor Authority
The White House also announced plans to nominate a new slate of Democratic appointees to the board that oversees the Thrift Savings Plan.
President Biden on Wednesday announced his long-awaited pick for a second Democrat to serve on the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and for many, it will be a familiar face: Susan Tsui Grundmann.
From 2009 until 2017, Grundmann served as the chairwoman of the Merit Systems Protection Board, where she oversaw that agency’s enforcement of civil service safeguards. She resigned that post shortly before former President Trump took office and became executive director and chief operating officer at the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, which oversees employee protections and labor relations in the legislative branch.
Prior to joining the federal government, Grundmann was general counsel for the National Federation of Federal Employees, where she fought the George W. Bush administration’s unsuccessful efforts to install the controversial National Security Personnel System at the Defense Department.
If confirmed, Grundmann would be the second Democrat on the FLRA alongside Chairman Ernest DuBester, who has already been nominated to a new term, giving the president a majority on the panel. It was unclear Thursday morning which Republican member Grundmann would replace, but James Abbott is serving in a holdover status on an expired term, while Colleen Duffy Kiko’s term is current until next year.
Biden also announced that he will nominate Kurt Rumsfeld to serve as the FLRA’s general counsel, a position that sat vacant for nearly the entirety of the Trump administration until Biden named an acting general counsel earlier this year. Rumsfeld currently serves as DuBester’s chief counsel, and from 2013 until 2019, he was the FLRA’s assistant general counsel for operations and legal policy.
In recent weeks, federal employee unions had begun pressuring the White House to make a nomination to flip the partisan makeup of the labor panel, particularly after Republicans at the FLRA continued to issue precedential decisions making it more difficult for labor groups to challenge alleged unfair labor practices that occur during collective bargaining negotiations.
In statements, American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley and National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon applauded Biden’s choice of Grundmann to serve on the panel.
“We are excited to see President Biden announce such qualified picks to help lead this important agency,” Kelley said. “Susan Tsui Grundmann brings decades of experience standing up for merit systems principles in the federal government, which will be invaluable in this role, while Kurt Rumsfeld’s previous work with the authority will ensure he can hit the ground running as he assumes the office of general counsel.”
“Once confirmed, Grundmann will restore the FLRA’s vital role as a fair, neutral arbiter of labor-management disputes in the federal sector,” Reardon said. “Grundmann has extensive experience in labor-management relations, including more than 20 years litigating and advising clients on labor and employment matters, which will serve her well as the FLRA handles issues involving the federal service labor management relations statute.”
Biden also announced on Wednesday that he would nominate a new slate of Democratic appointees to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the panel that oversees administration of the Thrift Savings Plan.
If confirmed, Javier Saade would serve as chairman of the FRTIB, a position that has been held on an acting basis by David Jones since then-Chairman Michael Kennedy resigned last year after the Trump administration pressured the board to reverse its decision to realign the index upon which the TSP’s international (I) fund is based over concern about investments in China.
Saade served on the Biden transition’s agency review team for the Treasury Department and previously was associate administrator of investment and innovation at the Small Business Administration during the Obama administration. He is currently a partner at multiple investment firms.
Biden also nominated Leona Bridges, who is a commissioner at the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, and Stacey Olivares, a board member at investment firm Mission Advancement Corporation, to serve on the board. He renominated Dana Bilyeu, who is in her second term at the FRTIB and also serves as the executive director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.