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Unfair Labor Practices

The labor relations law established a procedure by which employees, unions, and agencies can complain of and obtain correction of violations of the law. Such violations are called unfair labor practices and are filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). And if an unfair labor practice – ULP for short – is found, a remedy can be ordered to repair whatever harm was caused by the violation.

  • A ULP can be filed by an employee, the union or management. However, most unfair labor practices are filed by unions against agencies. Amongst many different violations that may occur, the majority of ULP charges against management allege a failure to bargain with a union concerning conditions of employment for bargaining unit employees.

    EXAMPLE:
    If a union felt that management had made a change affecting bargaining unit employees without allowing the union a chance to bargain, it could file a charge with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
  • There are differences between grievances and ULPs. The differences relate mainly to the nature of the disagreement between the parties and the resolution procedure used to resolve the disagreement. Grievances relate to disagreements over the interpretation and application of a collective bargaining agreement between union or management or agency personnel regulations and may be decided by an arbitrator. ULPs are related to disagreements over the coverage and meaning of the labor law and are decided by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).

    EXAMPLE:
    Failure to notify the union of a change in a condition of employment for one or more bargaining unit employees is an unfair labor (i.e., Failure to notify the union that you were changing Jane Does work schedule could result in an unfair labor practice).
  • A ULP may be filed anytime within 6 months of the date the wronged party became aware of the violation of the labor law.
  • The FLRA decides ULPs and determines the remedy. The FLRA may prescribe whatever remedy is necessary to correct the ULP. This may include revoking the management action that caused the ULP in the first place, and requiring management to go back to the situation as it existed before the ULP. Generally, however, the remedy consists of requiring the guilty party to sign and post a notice to employees which indicates that it will stop committing the ULP and that it will not take such actions in the future. Servicing Command Staff Advisors or HR Specialists will work with management to attempt resolution of an Unfair Labor Practice before a decision is made.
  • Avoiding ULP charges is not a matter that is completely within the control of agency management. Employees and unions are free to file a charge whenever they want. There is no standard of quality of likely merit that charges must have before being investigated by the FLRA.

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Last Modified 9/19/2013