The National Park Service was accused of violating federal labor law after a manager allegedly petitioned to decertify a bargaining unit representing Blue Ridge Parkway employees.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 workers in the federal government, said NPS knowingly permitted the manager to seek removal of the unit as the employees’ exclusive bargaining representative. That, it alleges, is a violation of the agency’s duty to neutrality.
“Every employee deserves fair representation at the worksite, and we will not stand by while this agency tries to run out the clock and make it easier to decertify the union,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley, in a statement.
The union submitted an unfair labor practice charge on Oct. 3 with the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
A spokesperson for NPS did not immediately return requests for comment.
Last year, a group of Blue Ridge Parkway employees represented by another union approached AFGE and expressed interest in converting their affiliation. They filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority in February 2021 requesting re-affiliation, which was approved the next month.
AFGE already had a local representing another group of Blue Ridge Parkway employees, so it filed a petition requesting a consolidation of the two. That was approved in September 2021, with no member employees raising objections.
Then, in December, with the backing of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the manager filed a petition seeking to decertify the newly consolidated unit.
The FLRA’s regional director rejected the petition in March 2022, citing longstanding policy that prohibits decertification attempts on unions within the first 12 months of certification.
The manager appealed for a review by the FLRA, which the agency granted in July and asked both sides to submit legal arguments.
The manager submitted her response in September, but by then she had been promoted to a new position. AFGE argues at that point, she no longer met the legal requirement to proceed with the case.
By allowing an employee no longer in the bargaining unit to continue pursuing decertification, AFGE said the the National Park Service made an attempt to escape negotiations on a new contract to represent employees at the newly consolidated unit.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.