NATCA Attends An FLRA Town Hall Meeting In Philadelphia
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Last Monday, NATCA attended a town hall meeting sponsored by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The FLRA held a panel discussion as well as an introduction to the FLRA online resources. The panel discussion participants included Ernest DuBester, Member, FLRA; Julia Akins Clark, General Counsel, FLRA; and Donald S. Wasserman, Member, Federal Service Impasses Panel. The online resources section was conducted by Deputy General Counsel Dennis Walsh, Boston Regional Director Philip Roberts and Attorney Neil Daly (Boston Region). Presenters provided information and also answered questions posed by participants during their respective portions of the meeting.
Each participant discussed the matters his/her office handles as well as provided insight into the goals and/or processes of the office. Mr. DuBester discussed the FLRA’s goals of providing access to information, conducting training and issuing timely decisions. He highlighted the reduction in the backlog of cases, noting that the FLRA doubled the number of decisions issued this year compared to the past two years. He also discussed the revised arbitration regulations regarding the appeal of an arbitrator’s decision, noting that the grounds for appeal are specified in the regulations.
Ms. Clark discussed the goals of eliminating the large backlog of cases, restoring public information and improving timeliness of decisions. She explained her decision to place the various guides, manuals and other reference materials back on the FLRA Web site, noting their value to those who use the services of the FLRA. She discussed forthcoming updates to the materials available on the website, as well as the training classes conducted by FLRA staff. She also addressed the 120-day goal for closing cases, yet noted that the FLRA continues to be understaffed by approximately 11 field agents.
Mr. Wasserman discussed the shift in the way the Panel processes impasses. The prior Panel processed cases by utilizing informal conferences and voluntary settlements were reached approximately 35 percent of the time. The current Panel is processing cases by utilizing the mediation/arbitration process and about two thirds of the cases are settled through mediation prior to arbitration.
Presenters also covered the following online resources available on the FLRA Web site: the ULP (Unfair Labor Practice) Case Law Outline, the ULP Case Handling Manual, and the FLRA Decision Search Engine. Deputy General Counsel Dennis Walsh reviewed the ULP Case Law Outline, which categorizes issues relevant to unfair labor practices and provides relevant FLRA case law for reference. The document provides links to cases and statutes cited for the convenience of the user.
Staff Attorney Neil Daly highlighted various portions of the ULP Case Handling Manual. The manual provides a guide to the entire unfair labor practice process and provides related documents and attachments.
Finally, the Regional Director Philip Roberts closed the meeting by providing information regarding the FLRA decision search engine. FLRA decisions can be browsed by volume or searched using certain search criteria.