Federal Times Blogs

The disappearing USPS union letter

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We’ll have more about this in Monday’s edition of Federal Times, but it’s an odd enough story that I think it merits a blog post tonight.

The major postal unions — APWU, NALC, NRLCA and NPMHU — sent a letter on Tuesday to Jim Messina, the White House deputy chief of staff. They requested a meeting to discuss the Postal Service’s “deepening crisis.” They want the White House to intervene with Congress and reduce the Postal Service’s contributions to its retiree health care trust fund. Without that change, the Postal Service is going to run out of cash this year.

The letter was posted on at least one of their Web sites (APWU) earlier today; it has since been removed. I printed it out earlier this afternoon, and we’ve posted a scanned copy (pdf) here — I guess hard copies are still useful sometimes, huh?

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Acting FLRA chairwoman named

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President Barack Obama on Feb. 19 selected Carol Waller Pope to be the acting chairwoman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Pope has been an FLRA member since 2000.

In a statement released today, Pope thanked Obama for the appointment and pledged to fulfill FLRA’s mission of setting labor-management policy and settling disputes between unions and agencies:

I believe that the work of the FLRA is important and that its mission to establish and implement policies and guidance that enhance the stability of labor-management relations in the federal government is critical to furthering the public interest in effective operations throughout the government.

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Obama gives unions edge in construction projects

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President Barack Obama wants agencies to consider requiring contractors on large-scale federal construction projects to enter into collective bargaining agreements.

In an executive order issued this afternoon, Obama said the White House would encourage agencies to require so-called project labor agreements for facility, highway or other construction projects totaling at least $25 million. The union contracts would establish work rights and labor dispute procedures for all employees working for a contractor or subcontractor on a specific construction project.

Obama said such work rules would ensure big construction projects don’t get bogged down by disputes among various companies working on a single project.

Obama’s order re-establishes procedures that were in place under President Clinton that were overturned by President George W. Bush.

The full text of the order is after the jump.

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Bush strips collective bargaining rights from ATF

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In a late-term executive order that has a major union crying foul, President Bush has excluded about 1,500 employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from collective bargaining.

In the Dec. 1 order, Bush listed 37 agencies or offices, including ATF, that “have as a primary function intelligence, counterintelligence, investigative or national security work.” National security requirements mean employees at those agencies cannot have collective bargaining rights, Bush said.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents ATF employees, called the order outrageous and unjustified, and promised to work to overturn Bush’s move. NTEU President Colleen Kelley said there is no reason to exclude ATF from collective bargaining units for national security reasons:

NTEU represents a number of employees involved with law enforcement and homeland security. In more than 30 years, collective bargaining has never interfered with agency missions, and in fact has created strong, professional and stable work forces.

Bush’s order would also exclude employees at the Tax and Trade Bureau’s Trade Analysis and Enforcement Division, which NTEU also represents, from collective bargaining.

The Bush administration’s relationship with unions has been contentious at best, as I described in one of this week’s cover stories. Yesterday’s order shows that conflict is likely to continue until Bush’s last day in office.

And it’s unclear what the long-term effect of this order will be. President-elect Barack Obama is a strong supporter of union rights for federal employees, and has pledged to expand collective bargaining to agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration. Obama could overturn Bush’s order when he takes office.

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