Quality in Processing Representation Petitions

February 3, 1997

 

MEMORANDUM
 

TO: Regional Directors
 

FROM: Joe Swerdzewski, General Counsel
 

SUBJECT: Quality in Processing Representation Petitions see also Time Goals

 

This policy was developed after considering the recommendations of the Regional Directors and their staffs and the Union of Authority Employees, and will be made available to our customers. This policy complements the Office of the General Counsel Policy on Quality in Unfair Labor Practice Investigations and furthers the intent of the new representation regulations, which were effective March 15, 1996. This quality policy applies to all Regional Office processing of representation petitions, and will be incorporated into the Representation Case Handling Manual.

POLICY

This policy sets forth the standards of quality which the processing of each representation petition will meet, regardless of the purpose of the petition. All Regional Directors will ensure that the processing of each representation petition conforms as closely as possible to the standards discussed in this policy. Each Region is responsible for developing and implementing procedures to:

  • ensure that the processing of representation petitions is conducted in a timely and efficient manner;
  • enable all Regional Office employees to understand the importance of maintaining a high level of quality in processing representation petitions and to understand the standards for quality in the Office of the General Counsel;
  • identify any assistance (such as additional training) which Office of the General Counsel employees may require to meet these quality standards;
  • assess the quality of the processing of a petition in every representation case;
  • ensure that applicable quality standards have been met before taking any dispositive action; and
  • provide that high levels of quality continue to be maintained in the processing of all representation petitions.

Under this policy, the Regions will develop and implement procedures to ensure that these quality standards have been met in each representation case prior to a Regional Director decision on the petition. This policy will be evaluated to determine its effectiveness on a recurring basis, by reviewing the quality of Regional Office representation petition processing and by considering the views of our customers.

OBJECTIVES

Every participant in the processing of a representation petition has a right to expect that the case processing procedures will meet certain basic standards of quality. Even though the petitions may have different purposes, seek different results and be processed differently, every participant has the right to expect that those standards of quality will be the same, regardless of which Regional Office processes the case. This policy is intended to establish the standards for the processing of representation petitions which will be followed throughout all Regional Offices.

BACKGROUND

Pursuant to the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and the Authority and General Counsel implementing regulations, the Regional Directors are charged with processing representation petitions; including making determinations on appropriate units, conducting investigations and hearings, directing and conducting elections, certifying election results and making other determinations on issues raised in representation petitions. Regional Directors also are charged with assisting the parties in discussing their interests and narrowing and resolving the issues both prior, and subsequent, to the filing of a petition.

The employees of the Authority's Regional Offices are highly regarded for their experience, ability and integrity. The Office of the General Counsel has always relied upon the competence and dedication of these employees to maintain the high quality of the processing of representation petitions. This policy establishes uniform standards, available to the public, for achieving that quality.

QUALITY STANDARDS

These are the essential quality standards which the processing of every representation petition should meet:

  1. The purpose of the petition is properly identified and the Region assists the petitioner to ensure that the petition is filed consistent with the Statute and the Regulations.
  2. The Region identifies all issues including those defined by what the petitioner seeks and those defined by the facts and circumstances giving rise to the petition.
  3. The investigation obtains the best possible relevant evidence.
  4. The case file contains all relevant evidence and information obtained during the investigation that provides a basis for the Regional Director's decision.
  5. All parties are treated fairly and equitably and the representation case handling process is explained to the parties.
  6. Representation elections are conducted in a fair and impartial manner, so that each eligible voter has an opportunity to cast a secret, uncoerced ballot.
  7. Hearings are conducted in a fair and impartial manner and create a complete factual record upon which the Regional Director can make a well reasoned and supportable decision.
  8. Representation petitions are processed as expeditiously as possible.

1. THE PURPOSE OF THE PETITION IS PROPERLY IDENTIFIED AND THE REGION ASSISTS THE PETITIONER TO ENSURE THAT THE PETITION IS FILED CONSISTENT WITH THE STATUTE AND THE REGULATIONS.

The Region takes a proactive role in assisting parties in filing representation petitions. The purpose of the petition is discussed with the petitioner and identified prior to beginning the investigation. When appropriate, the Region also is available to meet with a petitioner prior to filing a petition to provide technical assistance. All interested parties also are encouraged to meet with the Region prior to filing a petition to narrow and resolve issues.

2. THE REGION IDENTIFIES ALL ISSUES INCLUDING THOSE DEFINED BY WHAT THE PETITIONER SEEKS AND THOSE DEFINED BY THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES GIVING RISE TO THE PETITION.

Issues are not only defined by the results that the petitioner seeks, but also by the facts and circumstances that caused the petition to be filed. The Region assists the parties in exploring the totality of the facts to better understand the range of issues raised by the situation.

3. THE INVESTIGATION OBTAINS THE BEST POSSIBLE RELEVANT EVIDENCE.

The Region notifies any labor organization and agency it identifies that may be affected by issues raised in the petition and provides an opportunity for that labor organization and agency to participate in the process. All evidence, whether documentary or testimonial, is relevant. The Region obtains evidentiary information relevant to the issues raised by the petition in a manner that expedites the processing of the case. Such evidence is in the form of affidavits, documentation, position statements and legal arguments. The Region obtains this evidence through either an investigation or a fact-finding hearing. The Region informs the parties of the investigative process and its appropriateness.

4. THE CASE FILE CONTAINS ALL RELEVANT EVIDENCE AND INFORMATION OBTAINED DURING THE INVESTIGATION THAT PROVIDES A BASIS FOR THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR'S DECISION.

The case file contains all relevant documentary and testimonial evidence discovered and submitted during the investigation. The file also reflects the Region's decisional process.

5. ALL PARTIES ARE TREATED FAIRLY AND EQUITABLY AND THE REPRESENTATION CASE HANDLING PROCESS IS EXPLAINED TO THE PARTIES.

The representation process is the cornerstone for establishing the collective bargaining relationship between agencies and labor organizations. The representation proceeding is a nonadversarial process. It is critical that the parties view the Regional Office as neutral and impartial and have confidence that any decision will be consistent with the requirements of the Statute. The manner in which the case is processed is as important as the evidence it obtains.

To achieve this standard, all Regional Office employees:

  • conduct meetings to define, narrow and resolve issues;
  • clarify, whenever appropriate, the purposes and procedures of the investigation or hearing;
  • provide fair, appropriate and impartial technical assistance to all parties, as necessary;
  • encourage and assist the parties in entering into resolutions that resolve the issues raised by the parties and are consistent with the Statute; and
  • conform to appropriate ethical standards of behavior at all times.

6. REPRESENTATION ELECTIONS ARE CONDUCTED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER, SO THAT EACH ELIGIBLE VOTER HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CAST A SECRET, UNCOERCED BALLOT.

All representation elections, whether conducted on-site or by mail, are conducted in a fair and neutral basis. The sanctity of the ballot is protected at all times and the Region takes steps in preparing for and conducting an election that ensure that each eligible voter is afforded an opportunity to cast a secret, uncoerced ballot. The election process is clearly explained to the parties.

7. HEARINGS ARE CONDUCTED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER AND CREATE A COMPLETE FACTUAL RECORD UPON WHICH THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR CAN MAKE A WELL REASONED AND SUPPORTABLE DECISION.

Representation hearings are fairly and expeditiously conducted, and all Hearing Officer rulings are impartial. As a nonadversarial process, the Hearing Officer ensures that all evidence relevant to the issues raised by the petition is contained in the official record of the hearing.

8. REPRESENTATION PETITIONS ARE PROCESSED AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE.

Representation cases are processed as expeditiously as possible, taking into consideration the resources available to the Regional Office and the number of pending cases.

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