Facilitation, Intervention, Training and Education ("FITE") Policy

June 18, 1997

MEMORANDUM

TO: Regional Directors

FROM: Joe Swerdzewski, General Counsel

SUBJECT: FACILITATION, INTERVENTION, TRAINING AND EDUCATION ("FITE") POLICY - see also Press Release PR 112-97

This Policy governs the facilitation, intervention, training and education services provided by the Office of the General Counsel to the parties in fulfilling our mission to provide leadership in promoting stable labor-management relationships in the Federal sector. This FITE Policy supports the Federal Labor Relations Authority's Agency-wide initiative to assist labor and management parties to develop collaborative relationships and to provide dispute resolution services in unfair labor practice, representation, negotiability, impasses and arbitration cases pending before the Office of the General Counsel, the three Authority Members and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. The FITE Policy constitutes the principles and criteria that the Office of the General Counsel follows when working with the parties and delivering facilitation, intervention, training and education activities to further the development of collaborative relationships and dispute resolution.

 

Policy

The Office of the General Counsel furthers its mission of providing leadership in promoting productive labor-management relationships in the Federal sector by:

Ensuring understanding of, and compliance with, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7101 et. seq. (Statute);

Assisting the parties in developing consensual problem- solving skills to reduce their reliance on adversarial methods;

Enabling Federal agencies in partnership with Federal unions to deliver the highest quality services; and

Enhancing the quality of work life and the well-being of employees and managers.

The Office of the General Counsel accomplishes this Policy by:

  1. Identifying and assessing the needs of Federal sector unions and agencies for facilitation, intervention, training and education services;

  2. Facilitating the parties' development and maintenance of effective labor-management relationships;

  3. Providing intervention assistance to resolve pending disputes without litigation;

  4. Providing skills training jointly to Federal sector labor and management;

  5. Providing training on the Statute which enables the parties to understand the legal doctrines and their effect on day-to-day labor-management relations;

  6. Educating the parties on the benefits of collaborative approaches to labor-management relations, including partnerships;

  7. Creating innovative programs that are responsive to the needs of the parties;

  8. Effectively committing resources based on established criteria;

  9. Promoting alternative dispute resolution approaches to resolving disputes; and

  10. Evaluating the effectiveness of the FITE programs used in furtherance of this policy.

Objective

This FITE Policy is another part of the ongoing development of Federal Labor Relations Authority Office of the General Counsel's policies defining the manner in which the Office of the General Counsel provides leadership in promoting stable labor-management relationships in the Federal sector. The Office of the General Counsel has issued public policies on Settlement, Prosecutorial Discretion, Quality in Unfair Labor Practice Investigations, Scope of Investigations, Intervention, Injunctions, and Quality in Processing Representation Petitions. This FITE Policy continues those efforts.

Complementing the enforcement of the Statute by the investigation and, where settlement efforts are unsuccessful, the prosecution of unfair labor practice charges, and the processing of representation petitions, this Policy describes the continued use of Office of the General Counsel employees' labor law and problem solving expertise to assist Federal employees, unions and agency management in resolving disputes and enhancing labor-management relationships. This Policy provides Federal employees, unions and agencies with a problem-solving alternative to adversarial litigation and the opportunity to obtain assistance to enhance labor-management relationships which deliver the highest quality services and enhance the quality of work life and well-being of employees and managers.

Background

The Office of the General Counsel historically has provided the parties facilitation, intervention, training and education services since the Statute was enacted. Since January 1979, Office of the General Counsel employees have had, and continue to have, extensive contact with employees, union representatives and management representatives across the variety of Federal agencies, facilities and labor organizations at all levels. Office of the General Counsel employees have developed considerable understanding of the character of labor-management relationships in the Federal service. Office of the General Counsel employees have acquired experience in recognizing how common workday disputes can evolve into recalcitrant litigation and how such disputes can be resolved more effectively by means other than litigation. Based on our day-to-day contact with the parties in processing unfair labor practice and representation cases and in providing training on the Statute, parties have requested us to assist them in resolving broader labor-management relationship issues. For example, Office of the General Counsel employees assist parties in improving their relationships (facilitation); use innovative techniques to resolve pending unfair labor practice charges and representation matters (intervention); train union officials and agency representatives on their rights and responsibilities under the Statute, interest based bargaining techniques and alternative dispute resolution skills (training); and work with the parties to recognize the benefits of, and establish processes for, resolving disputes by consensual rather than adversarial methods (education).

These activities have not been an occasional adjunct to the processing of unfair labor practice charges and representation petitions, but rather have been a constant and integral part of the General Counsel's statutory mandate to investigate and prosecute unfair labor practice charges and provide leadership under the Statute. Unions and agencies have recognized that effective labor-management relations is a critical ingredient to accomplishing the mission of the agency and enhancing the quality of work life and the well-being of employees and managers. Parties have placed greater emphasis on the importance of interest based bargaining and problem-solving skills, alternative dispute resolution techniques, consensual dispute resolution skills and a common understanding of, and commitment to, partnership principles. Increasingly, parties have requested the Office of the General Counsel to assist them in these efforts due to our familiarity of the Statute and labor-management relationships across the Federal sector, acceptance of our employees as neutrals and the growing ability of our employees to Provide such assistance to the parties.

This FITE Policy sets forth the manner in which the Office of the General Counsel accomplishes its mission and meet the needs of the Federal sector labor-management community by providing FITE services to resolve pending disputes and avoid potential disputes.

Initiation of FITE Programs

FITE programs and services may be initiated by the Office of the General Counsel or by a request of the parties. For example, parties may jointly request skills training or assistance in enhancing their labor-management relationship, or the Office of the General Counsel may suggest to the parties that they may benefit from such training or assistance. Similarly, the Regional Offices may utilize an innovative technique to resolve a pending unfair labor practice charge or representation dispute, rather than by traditional methods. Irrespective of how FITE services are initiated, the Office of the General Counsel creates innovative FITE programs that are responsive to the varying needs of the parties.

The Regional Offices identify and assess the needs of Federal sector unions and agencies prior to providing FITE services. These services encompass such matters as: facilitating the parties' development and maintenance of effective labor-management relationships; providing intervention assistance to resolve pending disputes without litigation; providing training on the Statute and skills training jointly to Federal sector labor and management officials and representatives; and educating the parties on the benefits of collaborative approaches to labor-management relations, including partnerships.

Regional Offices promote alternative dispute resolution approaches to resolving disputes when providing FITE services and programs. The Office of the General Counsel also continuously evaluates the effectiveness of the FITE programs, both delivery and results obtained by the parties, used in furtherance of this policy.

Criteria for Providing FITE Programs

In administering this Policy, the Office of the General Counsel effectively commits its resources based on established criteria. In order for this FITE Policy to be consistently and fairly applied by the Regions, the Regional Directors and our customers must have a common understanding of the objective criteria which are evaluated to determine if FITE services are appropriate.

The Office of the General Counsel concentrates its limited resources where they have the potential to achieve the greatest results. Based on this objective, Regional Directors consider specific factors in determining whether FITE programs and services are undertaken. Not all of the following factors are relevant to each situation:

1. Commitment of the parties to improve their labor-management relationship

The Office of the General Counsel expends its limited resources only when both parties are committed to improve their relationship. Parties must be willing to be represented by officials who are committed to the process undertaken and empowered with the authority to commit their principals to specific actions intended to improve their relationship. Resources are not committed if either party fails to empower its representatives.

2. Availability of Office of the General Counsel employees to meet the parties' needs

A FITE program is not undertaken unless there are employees available to assign to the specific program. Regional Directors only assign those employees who are experienced in the type of FITE program undertaken and who are available at a time agreeable to both parties.

3. Balancing of resource needs among Office of the General Counsel programs

The Office of the General Counsel continues to effectively administer its limited resources to achieve the maximum results in fulfilling its statutory mission. Regional Directors thus take into consideration the pending unfair labor practice and representation caseload, the geographic location and timing of the FITE program, the agency's agreement to pay the travel and per diem of the Regional Office employees involved and the size of the group which is involved in the FITE program.

4. Organizational level of the agency and union

The relative organizational level of the agency and union that would be involved in the FITE program are taken into consideration in order to maximize resources. For example, Regional Directors evaluate whether the parties are at a Department, bureau, agency-wide or facility level and whether the union involved has national recognition, is a national council or a local affiliate.

5. Character of labor-management relationship

As part of the decision-making process, an evaluation of the character of the current labor-management relationship is undertaken. For example, Regional Directors take into consideration the extent of the parties' reliance on third-party procedures and whether there are current pending disputes before a third-party neutral.

6. The Office of the General Counsel's commitment to, and the parties' need for, continued assistance

In determining whether to commit resources to a FITE program, the Office of the General Counsel evaluates previous commitments to, and the need for, continued assistance. Regional Directors evaluate whether the parties are continuing a course of action designed to improve their relationship, as well as their continued need for FITE program assistance.

7. Nature and extent of prior assistance

Similarly, an evaluation is made of the nature and extent of prior assistance provided to the parties through a FITE program or any other type of assistance.

8. Acceptability of Office of the General Counsel assistance by the agency and union

The acceptability of Regional Office assistance by the agency and union also is evaluated. The weight of this factor varies dependent upon the type of FITE program under consideration. For example, the degree of acceptability should be greater in a facilitation to improve a relationship, as compared to an intervention to resolve a pending unfair labor practice or representation dispute.

9. Office of the General Counsel involvement furthers FITE policy

All FITE programs which are undertaken further the FITE policy described in this memorandum. The Regions do not undertake a FITE program which is not intended to further the FITE policy goals.

Role of the Senior Dispute Resolution Specialists
in Each Regional Office

Each Regional Office is staffed with a Senior Dispute Resolution specialist (DRS) who serves as the technical expert in dispute resolution for the Regional Office. The DRS is the focal point for the Region's facilitation, intervention, training and education activities, with particular emphasis on the use of alternative case processing techniques, as described in the Office of the General Counsel's Intervention Policy and this FITE Policy. The DRS provides expertise in implementing the activities discussed under this Policy by which the Office of the General Counsel provides leadership in promoting productive labor-management relationships in the Federal sector.

The DRS works with Regional Office managers and other Regional Office agents to identify and assess the parties' needs for FITE services; design programs to meet those needs; develop materials to use in the delivery of these services; facilitate effective labor-management relationships; provide intervention assistance; provide skills training; educate the parties on the benefits of cooperative relationships; create responsive innovative FITE programs; utilize resources efficiently; promote alternative dispute resolution; and, evaluate the effectiveness of FITE programs. The DRS in the Region provides for coordinated program and material development, service delivery, and staff development with other Regions and the Office of the General Counsel National Office. The DRS also serves as the liaison with the National Office of the General Counsel for the exchange of information concerning the delivery of FITE services by the Regions.

One of the most significant objectives of the FITE Policy is to develop creative solutions to problems raised by individual cases and groups of cases and to develop new approaches to integrating interest based problem solving into Regional Office case processing. In conjunction with Regional Office managers, the DRS reviews the status of parties in the Region which file large numbers of unfair labor practice charges ("high filers") or which have chronic labor relations problems and devises strategies for improving these relationships.

Involvement of All Office of the General Counsel
Employees in FITE Activities

The delivery of FITE services is a part of the work of the Office of the General Counsel, just as is the processing of unfair labor practice charges and representation petitions. The skills required to deliver FITE programs effectively are the same basic skills that are required to effectively communicate with parties, explain procedures and legal doctrines and resolve pending cases:

  1. An expert understanding of the Statute, Federal sector case law, the Regulations and the policies of the Office of the General Counsel;

     

  2. Knowledge of alternative dispute resolution techniques which complement the statutory framework;

     

  3. The ability to listen and understand the interests of the parties;

     

  4. The ability to communicate information and ideas effectively to the parties; and

     

  5. The ability to utilize these skills to facilitate improved relationships between labor and management, to intervene in and resolve representation and unfair labor practice cases, to train labor and management representatives on the law and procedure as well as on skills and processes to resolve disputes and improve relationships; and to educate the parties on methods to avoid disputes and resolve themselves those disagreements that may arise.

     

All Office of the General Counsel employees participate in the development and delivery of FITE programs, just as all Office of the General Counsel employees process unfair labor practice charges and representation petitions. Employees in each Region are supported by the DRS who serves as a coach/mentor/resource and by continuous training on the skills, strategies and techniques required for the successful design and delivery of FITE activities.

FITE Implements CADR

This FITE Policy supports and implements the Federal Labor Relations Authority Agency-wide Collaborative and Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (CADR). CADR is the Federal Labor Relations Authority's agency-wide initiative to assist labor and management parties to develop collaborative relationships and provide dispute resolution services in unfair labor practice, representation, negotiability, impasses and arbitration cases pending before the Office of the General Counsel, the three Authority members and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. This FITE policy represents the Office of the General Counsel's approach for assisting the parties in developing collaborative relationships and for providing dispute resolution services in those unfair labor practice and representation cases that are pending before the Office of the General Counsel.

Pursuant to the CADR program, each component of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, including the Office of the General Counsel, manages the actual delivery of dispute resolution services. Thus, the Office of the General Counsel manages the delivery of FITE services by Office of the General Counsel employees, which includes the following responsibilities: the authority and responsibility to determine whether assistance is provided; the type of process that is utilized; the employees that deliver the service; the supervision and evaluation of the service and the control of any related pending cases. The Regions are responsible for the day-to-day management of FITE activities, in the same manner that the Regions are responsible for the day-to-day processing of unfair labor practice charges and representation petitions.

While the Office of the General Counsel manages the delivery of FITE services, the Office of the General Counsel also is guided and supported by the activities of the unified CADR Program. For example, the Office of the General Counsel is guided by an Agency-wide strategic plan and guidance to implement that plan to further the mission of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The Office of the General Counsel also is guided and supported by curricula, training materials, a data base, and an evaluation process developed by CADR for agency-wide use. The General Counsel National Office serves as the liaison between the Regions and the guidance and support developed by the CADR Office.

In addition, the Office of the General Counsel also works with other components of the Federal Labor Relations Authority in those situations where the same dispute has manifested itself in related cases pending before different components. For example, the same dispute may be pending before the Office of the General Counsel as an unfair labor practice charge, before the Authority decisional component as a negotiability petition for review and before the Federal Service Impasses Panel as an impasse. Office of the General Counsel employees also are given the opportunity to work with employees from other components of the Agency, when appropriate, in activities which do not directly involve pending Regional Office cases. In these types of situations, Office of the General Counsel employees remain under the supervision of the Regions, but the delivery of those activities are managed by the CADR Office.

Regional Office employees also participate in alternative dispute resolution processes as a party on behalf of the General Counsel after an unfair labor practice complaint has been transferred to the Authority. In those situations, the Regions serve in the capacity as a party before the Authority, just as the Charging Party and the Respondent appear as parties. These types of alternative dispute resolution processes are managed by the CADR Office.

Access to FITE Services

A FITE program is initiated by the Office of the General Counsel or by a request of the parties. A FITE service also is delivered by a Region pursuant to a referral from the CADR Office. The Regions use the same factors in determining whether to deliver a FITE program discussed in this Policy regardless of whether the activity is initiated by the Region, a request from the parties or a referral from the CADR Office. FITE requests may be submitted to the CADR Office, the Office of the General Counsel National Office or to one of the Office of the General Counsel Regional Offices at the following addresses:

Federal Labor Relations Authority
Office of the General Counsel

607 14th Street, N.W., Suite 210
Washington, DC 20424-0001
(202) 482-6600
FAX: (202) 482-6608
Contact: William E. Fleischman, Special Assistant to the Deputy General Counsel for Intervention Services

Boston Regional Office, FLRA
99 Summer Street, Suite 1500
Boston, MA 02110-1200
(617) 424-5730
FAX: (617) 424-5743
Edward S. Davidson, Regional Director

Washington Regional Office, FLRA
1255 22nd Street, NW, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20037-1206
(202) 653-8502
FAX: (202) 653-5091
Michael W. Doheny, Regional Director

Atlanta Regional Office, FLRA
Marquis Two Tower, Suite 701
285 Peachtree Center Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30303-1270
(404) 331-5212
FAX: (404) 331-5280
Brenda M. Robinson, Regional Director

Chicago Regional Office, FLRA
55 West Monroe, Suite 1150
Chicago, IL 60603-9729
(312) 353-6306
FAX: (312) 886-5977
William E. Washington, Regional Director

Dallas Regional Office, FLRA
525 Griffin Street, Suite 926, LB 107
Dallas, TX 75202-1906
(214) 767-4996
FAX: (214) 767-0156
James E. Petrucci, Regional Director

Denver Regional Office, FLRA 1244 Speer Boulevard, Suite 100
Denver, CO 80204-3581
(303) 844-5224
FAX: (303) 844-2774
Marjorie K. Thompson, Regional Director

 

San Francisco Regional Office, FLRA
901 Market Street, Suite 220
San Francisco, CA 94103-1791
(415) 356-5000
FAX: (415) 356-5017
Gerald Cole, Regional Director

Requests for alternative dispute resolution services in cases pending before the Federal Labor Relations Authority decisional component, i.e., negotiability, arbitration, unfair labor practice and representation cases pending before the three Authority Members, should be directed to the CADR Office at the following address:

Collaboration and Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (CADR)
Federal Labor Relations Authority
607 14th Street, N.W., 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20424-0001
(202) 482-6503
FAX: (202) 482-6659