GENERAL COUNSEL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON THE DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION

 

FLRA NEWS


FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY · WASHINGTON, DC · 20424

January 27, 1997 · PR 101-97
Contact: Kim Weaver
202-482-6500

GENERAL COUNSEL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON
THE DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION

FLRA General Counsel Joseph Swerdzewski today issued guidance to the Regional Directors on the duty of fair representation. The guidance memorandum provides a comprehensive overview of the General Counsel’s views on legal issues arising from the duty of fair representation owed to bargaining unit employees by a union serving as an exclusive representative of a bargaining unit.

"The duty of fair representation is a significant, and often misunderstood, concept in the Federal service labor-management relations program," said General Counsel Swerdzewski. "This memorandum provides guidance to the Regional Directors in investigating, deciding and resolving disputes about the duty owed to employees by their exclusive representative. In view of the significant increase in the number of duty of fair representation unfair labor practice charges in the past three years and the difficult issues those charges raise, I have issued this guidance and made it available to the public to set forth my views and help the parties avoid these disputes."

This guidance is a continuation of the FLRA Office of the General Counsel’s efforts to provide quality customer service. The guidance outlines the legal tests established by the Authority for determining whether the duty of fair representation has been violated and highlights the types of factors that the Authority has relied upon in making its determinations. It explores the types of remedies which the Authority has ordered and which the Regions may seek when a Regional Director determines that the duty of fair representation has been violated. It discusses the limitations on the involvement of an agency in a dispute between an employee and the union. In addition, the guidance examines when a union may choose to consider only the views of members when taking a position on a condition of employment to present to an agency and when a union must treat members and non-members the same when deciding on what position to take. It analyzes the relationship between the duty of fair representation and the selection of employees for work teams and granting awards to work teams as a group. An appendix contains a summary of the duty of fair representation cases that the Authority has decided.

The Office of the General Counsel is the independent investigative and prosecutorial component of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) which investigates, settles and prosecutes unfair labor practice charges. The General Counsel periodically issues guidance to the Regional Directors on the parties’ legal rights and duties in the context of resolving unfair labor practice charges. The Authority is the three-member adjudicatory body within the FLRA which, among other things, decides unfair l