Federal Labor Relations Act

The Federal Labor Relations Act of 1978 (FLRA) is a federal law which establishes collective bargaining rights for most employees of the federal government in the United States.

The FLRA was adopted after President Jimmy Carter pushed for legislation to regularize federal labor relations.

In passing the act, Congress declared that it wished to encourage collective bargaining between federal employees and their employers. Congress declared that collective bargaining is "in the public interest" because, among other things, it "contributes to the effective conduct of public business" and "facilitates and encourages the amicable settlements of disputes between employees and their employers involving conditions of employment."

With only a some major exceptions, it is patterned on the National Labor Relations Act.

One important difference between the two laws is the scope of the authorized collective bargaining process. While private-sector employees are entitled to collectively bargain through a representative of their choosing with respect to wages, hours, benefits, and other working conditions, federal employees can collectively bargain with respect to personnel practices only. Thus, federal employees may not negotiate the following working conditions through their exclusive bargaining representative: Wages, Hours, Employee benefits,and Classifications of Jobs.

Another important difference is although the NLRA allows private sector employees to engage in "concerted action," like workplace strikes, the Statute does not grant this right to federal employees. In fact, the Statute specifically excludes from the definition of "employee" those persons who engage in a workplace strike. It specifies that it is an unfair labor practice for labor unions to call or participate in a strike or a work stoppage that interferes with the operation of a federal agency.

A third important difference is under the FLRA it is an unfair labor practice for labor unions to call or participate in picketing that interferes with the operation of a federal agency, employee picketing under the Statute may consist of "informational" picketing only. Under the NLRA, appropriate picketing is a right guaranteed to private sector employees. Picketing allowed by the Statute must not disrupt the operations of the agency. It also may not occur while the employees are on duty.

The FLRA establishes a Federal Labor Relations Authority to oversee elections and protect federal government employees' organizing and bargaining rights.


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