September 10, 1998 · PR 109-98
Contact: Patty Reilly


General Counsel Joseph Swerdzewski today issued

guidance to the FLRA Regional Directors

regarding the concept of the "scope of bargaining" under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. Regional Directors frequently are required to make decisions on the negotiability of union proposals in situations where management is seeking to make a change in a condition of employment. The memorandum serves as guidance to the Regional Directors in investigating, resolving, litigating and settling unfair labor practice charges where negotiability is an issue. It also is intended to assist parties in improving their labor-management relationship by avoiding litigation and facilitating collective bargaining.

"A working knowledge of the scope of bargaining and the ability to draft meaningful appropriate arrangement proposals is essential to successful collective bargaining," said General Counsel Swerdzewski. "I am making this guidance available to the public to assist union officials and agency representatives in working together to develop productive labor-management relationships, to avoid negotiability disputes and to obtain a better understanding, and take advantage, of the entire scope of bargaining under the Statute."

The Guidance describes how proper utilization of a pre-decisional involvement process and interest-based problem-solving techniques limits dramatically negotiability disputes and explains: (1) the differences between the duty to bargain and scope of bargaining; (2) what constitutes good faith bargaining; and (3) what the concept of negotiability means. The Guidance presents approaches which allow the parties to improve the effectiveness of bargaining within the current statutory scope of bargaining. In particular, the concept of "appropriate arrangements" is explored and a protocol is suggested for parties to follow to develop meaningful, negotiable appropriate arrangement proposals. Techniques to avoid negotiability disputes and not disrupt the collective bargaining process by filing unfair labor practice charges in unilateral change situations are also presented. Since a knowledge of the statutory scope of bargaining under the Statute is essential to implement these approaches and techniques, attached to the Guidance is a Summary of the Scope of Bargaining under the Statute.

The FLRA is an independent agency that administers the labor-management relations program for 1.9 million federal employees worldwide, 1.1 million of whom are exclusively represented in more than 2,200 bargaining units. The Office of the General Counsel is the independent investigative and prosecutorial component of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) which processes unfair labor practice charges and representation petitions through the Regional Offices, and assists parties in improving their labor-management relationship. The General Counsel periodically issues guidance to the Regional Directors to provide leadership in promoting productive labor-management relationships in the Federal sector. The General Counsel, Joe Swerdzewski, directs the FLRA's seven Regional Offices located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

A copy of the Executive Summary is attached. The Guidance will be available at the FLRA Web Site, or it may be requested by fax to the Office of the General Counsel at (202) 482-6608 or by letter to 607 14th St., NW, Ste. 210, Washington, D.C. 20424 attention: "Scope of Bargaining Guidance." Written requests should include your name, title, organization, address, telephone and fax numbers and the name of the guidance you are requesting. Questions or comments concerning this Guidance should be directed to FLRA Deputy General Counsel David Feder at (202) 482-6680, extension 203.

Please note that under separate cover in PR 110-98 the Authority component of the FLRA issued a notice of proposed rule making on revisions to its negotiability regulations.

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