After requiring the resignation of all 10 members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel at the beginning of his administration, President Joe Biden announced Aug. 23 his intent to fill all of the panel member positions, addressing the final vacancies left remaining at the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
The FLRA is responsible for resolving disputes between federal employee unions and agency leaders in cases of contract negotiations and unfair labor practices.
The FSIP is the contract negotiation arbiter at the authority. When agencies and their employee unions cannot come to agreement on collective bargaining negotiations, they can request mediation from the FLRA. If that mediation fails to result in an agreement, either party can file for assistance from the panel, which can impose contract terms on the union and agency.
The final step an agency or union can take in resolving a contract dispute is to appeal the FSIP ruling to a relevant court.
Federal unions were dissatisfied with the members of the FSIP under the Trump administration, after the panel consistently ruled in favor of labor practices based on President Donald Trump’s May 2018 executive orders restricting collective bargaining and making it easier to fire federal employees.
Federal unions took Trump’s order to court, arguing that they violated statutory protections provided to unions. But the appeals court ultimately ruled that unions would have to go through FSIP decision-making before taking the orders to court.
“During the previous administration, the FSIP was often hostile toward the role unions play in federal government operations and issued an overwhelming majority of opinions that favored management. The FSIP was in dire need of objective labor relations professionals and this new list of appointees meets that standard,” National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon said in a statement.
Biden rescinded those executive orders upon taking office and removed all 10 members of the FSIP who had enforced them.
Since, that time, Biden has selected people to fill out the leadership of the larger FLRA, though they must still go through Senate confirmation.
His appointment of these 10 members to the FSIP, which does not require Senate confirmation, will enable the agency to operate at full strength again.
- Martin H. Malin — Malin, who previously worked on the FSIP under the Obama administration, will serve as the panel’s new chair. He worked as a law professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology for 41 years and served as the national chair of the Labor Relations and Employment Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, secretary of the ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law, member of the Executive Committee of the Labor Law Group, member of the Board of Governors and vice president of the National Academy of Arbitrators, and member of the Board of Governors of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
- Wynter Patrice Allen — A partner and practitioner of employment law at the Alden Law Group, Allen previously served on the Washington, D.C., Public Employee Relations Board for four years.
- Jeanne Charles — Also a former law professor, Charles is a labor and employment arbitrator on several public and private sector labor panels and previously worked as counsel for a federal sector labor union.
- Howard Friedman — Experienced on the union side of labor relations, Friedman worked as an attorney for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and served as president of the local NTEU chapter and labor co-chair of the USPTO and Department of Commerce labor-management forum. Friedman was part of crafting USPTO’s telework program that enabled 11,000 employees to now work from home.
- Edward F. Hartfield — Appointed to the FSIP before under President Obama and President Bill Clinton, Hartfield has served as commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, mediator for the New Jersey Office of Dispute Settlement, and arbitrator for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the National Mediation Board, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, the Ohio State Employment Relations Board, and the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board.
- Marvin E. Johnson — Having served three terms already on the FSIP, Johnson has also worked for the Department of Labor, the National Football League Players’ Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the National Treasury Employees Union, the National Academy of Conciliators and Accormend Associates.
- Mark Gaston Pearce — A professor and executive director of the Georgetown University Law Center, Workers’ Rights Institute, Pearce previously served as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and has over 40 years of experience in labor and employment law.
- Pamela R. Schwartz — Appearing before the FSIP herself as a union representative, Schwartz served as president of the Patent Office Professional Association for three years during her 35-year career at USPTO.
- Joseph E. Slater — After working for over a decade in labor and employment law, Slater is a professor at the University of Toledo College of Law and has testified before Congress on U.S. labor law.
- Tamiko N.W. Watkins — An adjunct professor at Howard University Law School, Watkins is the assistant general counsel at the Millennium Challenge Corp. and oversees its Freedom of Information Act program office and whistleblower protection program.
The American Federation of Government Employees “strongly supports President Biden’s selections to the Federal Service Impasses Panel. We are confident that these members will fairly resolve labor disputes between unions and agencies and restore dignity and fairness to the panel and its important work on behalf of federal employees,” the union’s National President Everett Kelley said in a statement.
Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.