Your Right to Receive Information
You have a right to obtain information from the FAA concerning yourself and matters that affect your employment.
Employees and NATCA Representatives have a right to request information from the FAA. Several statutes exist that protect your right to request information:
- The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) allows a person to request information about him or herself from an Agency system of records.
- The Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552 et. seq.) allows a person to request information regarding government records.
Those two acts have various rules and restrictions that apply when requesting information. However, NATCA’s primary mechanism for obtaining information from the Agency is through an information request pursuant to 5 USC 7114(b)(4). As the exclusive representative of bargaining unit members, a union may request information on your behalf from the Agency pursuant to 5 USC 7114(b)(4). This information can be requested in order determine whether to file a grievance, to pursue an active grievance, or to engage in negotiations on behalf of the bargaining unit.
5 USC 7114(b) of the Federal Labor Management Relations Statute discusses the duty of an agency and an exclusive representative to negotiate in good faith. Part of the obligation requires the following from the Agency under 7114(b)(4):
- In the case of an agency, to furnish to the exclusive representative involved, or its authorized representative, upon request and, to the extent not prohibited by law, data –
- which is normally maintained by the Agency in the regular course of business;
- which is reasonably available and necessary for full and proper discussion, understanding, and negotiation of subjects within the scope of collective bargaining; and
- which does not constitute guidance, advise, counsel, or training provided for management officials or supervisors, relating to collective bargaining;
- Data is defined as documents (business records, email, etc.) and can require the Agency to create a document compiling existing information responsive to a union’s request.
- Normally maintained indicates that the Agency keeps such records in the normal course of business and the information is within the Agency’s control.
- Reasonably available indicates that the Agency must provide information if it exists.
- The Agency bears the costs of gathering this information.
- An Agency may defend against providing such information if it is required to go through excessive or extreme means to provide the information.
- Finally, necessary indicates the requirement that must be met by the union in order to justify requesting the information to carry out its representational responsibilities (e.g., filing a grievance, engaging in contract negotiations, administering the contract).
Regarding the necessary aspect, an exclusive representative must state a “particularized need for information.” The FLRA has stated that a union must articulate with specificity:
- why the information is necessary;
- the uses to which the union will put the information; and
- the connection between the uses and its role as exclusive representative. IRS Kansas City, Missouri, 50 FLRA 661 (1995).
All three aspects must be addressed in order to meet the particularized need test. The Union has the obligation to establish its need although it is not required to reveal strategies in making such a showing. Moreover, if a request covers a long period of time or a broad geographical region, the union has to specify why the scope of the request is appropriate. The Union has to explain WHY IT NEEDS THE INFORMATION and HOW IT WILL BE USED. The Agency has a duty to respond to information requests. The Agency must also advise the Union if the information does not exist. If the Agency denies all or part of a request, it is also required to articulate with specificity its reasons for nondisclosure. Should the Agency deny a request for information based on lack of particularized need, the Union should clarify its information request. If the Agency raises another defense to disclosure, such as a Privacy Act interest, the Union may request information in a sanitized format in order to obtain the information. If the Union believes that the Agency has improperly denied information, the Union may consider filing an unfair labor practice charge or a grievance alleging an unfair labor practice charge against the Agency for failure to provide information.
Please contact your facility representative, Regional Vice President, or LR Staff Representative to discuss the matter prior to filing a grievance or a charge.