FLRA Could Be Back to Full Strength With Latest Nomination
After six months of operating with an even partisan split, President Biden announced he would nominate a top Defense Department official for the final post at the FLRA.
President Biden on Friday announced that he plans to nominate Nancy Anderson Speight to serve as the third and final member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, potentially portending the end of a months-long vacancy at the agency that oversees federal sector labor relations.
The FLRA board, which adjudicates allegations of unfair labor practices and disputes over matters like whether a union contract proposal is negotiable, has been operating at less than full strength since January, when then Chairman Ernest DuBester’s term as a carryover appointee expired. DuBester had been tapped for a new term at the agency, but Republicans successfully blocked the Senate from voting on his nomination over allegations of impropriety, which he denied.
FLRA Chairwoman Susan Tsui Grundmann and Member Colleen Duffy Kiko have continued to issue decisions over the first six months of 2023, although federal employee unions have argued that the vacancy in the seat reserved for a member of the president’s political party has made it more difficult for the agency to decide controversial cases.
Speight currently serves as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, a post she has held since August 2021. She also served from 2001 until 2009 as the Atlanta regional director of the FLRA, prior to which she held multiple positions within the FLRA’s Office of General Counsel. She is the author of multiple FLRA employee manuals that remain in use today, the White House said.
The announcement of a nominee for the final FLRA seat was quickly lauded by federal employee unions.
“We are extraordinarily pleased that President Biden has nominated such a qualified individual to be a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority,” said Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “Now that the president has put forth a full slate of nominees, the Senate must approve these nominations as soon as possible to ensure the Authority can continue to perform its vital function adjudicating labor disputes in the federal government.”
National Treasury Employee Union National President Tony Reardon touted Speight’s prior experience at the FLRA and said his union supports her nomination.
“President Biden’s forthcoming nominee for the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Nancy Anderson Speight, has extensive experience in federal sector labor law, including eight years as a regional director at FLRA’s Atlanta office and, before that, with the FLRA’s Office of General Counsel,” he said. “Her work experience is well suited to filling the final vacancy at the three-member FLRA, an agency that plays an important role in protecting the rights of federal employees and holding agencies accountable for unfair labor practices.”
Matt Biggs, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, urged the Senate to move quickly both on Speight’s nomination and that of Suzanne Summerlin, whom Biden tapped last week to serve as the FLRA general counsel following six years without a Senate-confirmed appointee in the position.
“Ms. Speight, who currently serves as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, has a long and successful career of public service, including as regional director of the Atlanta FLRA region from 2001 to 2009,” Biggs said. “She is not only highly qualified for this position, but has a strong appreciation and respect for federal workers and will no doubt hit the ground running at the FLRA.”