Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is a union?

  • What is a Negotiation or Collective Bargaining?

  • What is an appropriate bargaining unit?

  • What is an exclusive recognition?

  • What Rights do Employees have in the Federal Service Labor Management Relations Statute?

  • What are the representational rights of the Union?

  • What are management’s rights?

  • What is a negotiated Grievance Procedure?

What is a union?
A union is an organization composed in whole or in part of employees, in which employees participate and pay dues, and which has as a purpose the dealing with an agency concerning grievances and conditions of employment.

What is Negotiation or Collective Bargaining?
Collective Bargaining is bargaining between and/or among representatives of agencies and labor unions to set working conditions for all employees in an appropriate bargaining unit. Employees have the right to engage in negotiations (i.e., collective bargaining) over conditions of employment through their chosen union representatives. Negotiating or collective bargaining is the mutual obligation of management and the union to meet at reasonable times and bargain in a good faith effort to reach agreement with respect to conditions of employment affecting employees represented by the union. Conditions of employment is a broad term which encompasses personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions. Certain matters are specifically excluded by law from being considered a condition of employment (e.g., the classification of a position).

What is an appropriate bargaining unit?
An appropriate bargaining unit is a grouping of employees that a union represents or seeks to represent and that the Federal Labor Relations Authority finds appropriate for collective bargaining purposes.

What is an exclusive recognition?
The Statute provides that an agency shall recognize a labor organization as the exclusive representative of employees in a bargaining unit, if that organization has been selected as the representative by a majority of the unit’s employees who voted in a secret ballot election.

What are conditions of employment?
Conditions of employment means personnel policies, practices, and matters, whether established by rule, regulation, or otherwise [e.g., by custom or practice], affecting working conditions, except that such term does not include policies, practices, and matters–(A) relating to political activities prohibited under subchapter III of chapter 73 of this title; (B) relating to the classification of any positions; or (C) to the extent such matters are specifically provided for by Federal statute.

What Rights do Employees have in the Labor Relations Statute?
Employees have the right to form, join or assist a union or to refrain from doing so. Employees shall be free to exercise this right without fear of penalty or reprisal and shall be protected in exercising this right. Employees have the right to:

  • Act as a union representative, and in that capacity, to present union views to agency management, the Congress or other authorities;
  • Negotiate over conditions of employment through their chosen representative;
  • Decide whether to be a union member, and if a union member, how actively engaged.

What are the Representational Rights of the Union?

A union that has been accorded exclusive recognition for a bargaining unit has a duty to fairly represent all employees in the bargaining unit. The union has the right to:

  • Negotiate with management in good faith concerning conditions of employment;
  • Obtain data normally maintained by management that is reasonably available and necessary for full and proper discussion, understanding, and negotiation of the subjects appropriate for collective bargaining;
  • Have employees representing the union on official time when negotiating agreements with management; and
  • Be represented at certain discussions management may have with bargaining unit employees, including: Formal discussions; Certain examinations of employees.

What are Management Rights?

Management rights is a term which defines those areas over which management exercises exclusive decision-making authority. These rights are spelled out in the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. There are two categories of management rights, “mandatory” or reserved rights, such as the right to determine mission, budget, internal security and “permissive” rights. Permissive rights are those rights (e.g., numbers, types and grades of employees assigned to an organizational subdivision, work project, or tour of duty) that management may bargain, but is not statutorily required to do so.

What is a negotiated Grievance Procedure?
The negotiated grievance procedure is a system for resolving disputes. It is a method, established by the union and management, for finding out where problems exist and solving those problems fairly and quickly. Every collective bargaining agreement must contain a negotiated grievance procedure. A grievance is defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and may cover any complaint:

  • by any employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee;
  • by any labor organization concerning any matter relating to the employment of any employee; or
    • by any employee, labor organization, or agency concerning:
    • the effect or interpretation, or a claim of breach, of a collective bargaining agreement; or
    • any claimed violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any law, rule, or regulation affecting conditions of employment.

For further information, see:

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