Fiscal Year 1999 Annual Program Performance Report: Overview of FLRA

The FLRA is an independent agency responsible for directing the labor-management relations program for 1.9 million non-postal Federal employees world-wide, nearly 1.1 million of whom are exclusively represented in approximately 2,200 bargaining units. The FLRA is charged by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) with: providing leadership in establishing policies and guidance relating to Federal sector labor-management relations; resolving disputes arising among Federal agencies and unions representing Federal employees; and ensuring compliance with the Statute.

The FLRA fulfills its statutory responsibilities through its three primary operational components -- the Authority, the Office of General Counsel and the Federal Service Impasses Panel.

The Authority adjudicates disputes arising under the Statute, deciding cases concerning the negotiability of collective bargaining agreement proposals, unfair labor practice (ULP) allegations, representation petitions, and exceptions to grievance arbitration awards. As part of the Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (CADR) Program described below, the Authority also assists Federal agencies and unions in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the Statute and resolving their disputes through interest-based problem-solving rather than adjudication. In addition to the three Authority Member Offices, the Authority component of the FLRA also houses the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, and agency central management offices.

The FLRA's Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) hear and prepare recommended decisions in cases involving alleged ULPs. In addition, the ALJs issue decisions involving applications for attorney fees filed pursuant to the Back Pay Act or the Equal Access to Justice Act. The decisions of the ALJs may be affirmed, modified, or reversed, in whole or in part, by the Authority. If no exceptions are filed to an ALJ decision, the decision is adopted by the Authority and becomes final and binding on the parties. While performing their duties, the ALJs engage in settlement efforts throughout all stages of the process and also conduct prehearing conferences in all ULP cases.

The Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (CADR) Office is responsible for coordinating, supporting, and expanding the unified CADR Program. Under this program, all three agency components offer a variety of collaboration and alternative dispute resolution services at all steps of the process, from investigation and prosecution to the adjudication of cases and resolution of bargaining impasses. The CADR Program also provides partnership facilitation and training programs to assist labor and management in developing constructive approaches to conducting their relationship.

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is the independent investigative and prosecutorial component of the FLRA. The OGC investigates all ULP charges filed by labor or management and prosecutes all ULP complaints before the Authority -- primarily through staff located in seven regional offices. The regional offices: investigate and settle or prosecute ULP claims, actively encouraging, as part of the CADR Program, the use of collaboration and alternative dispute resolution at every step; ensure compliance with all ULP orders issued by the Authority; receive and process representation petitions; and provide facilitation, intervention, training, and education services to the parties. The General Counsel reviews all appeals of a Regional Director's decision not to issue a ULP complaint and establishes policies and procedures for processing ULP charges.

The Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP or the Panel) resolves bargaining impasses between Federal agencies and unions representing Federal employees arising from negotiations over conditions of employment under the Statute and the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act. If bargaining between the parties, followed by mediation assistance, proves unsuccessful, the Panel has the authority to recommend procedures and to take whatever action it deems necessary to resolve the im