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Labor Relations Application National Consultation Rights

Respond to the following questions from the Striking a Balance text:

Is coordinated, transnational collective bargaining a good idea for unions and workers? If so, how should it be promoted?
What are the potential drawbacks?

Read the Labor Relations Application on p. 489 (see the below)and discuss the pros and cons of requiring consultation rights for a union that represents less than a majority of employees in a firm. Should a minority union have consultation rights if there already exists a union that represents the majority of employees in the firm? Why or why not?

Labor Relations Application p. 489:
Labor Relations Application National Consultation Rights in the U.S. Federal Government
Union representation in the U.S. private sector is an all-or-nothing affair: With majority support, a union is the exclusive representative of all employees and is entitled to bargain over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. But without majority support, unions have few rights. This contrasts sharply with European labor relations in which works councils have codetermination, consultation, and information rights even if only a few workers desire such representation. But for employees of the U.S. federal government, it is possible for a union that represents less than a majority of employees to have consultation rights.

Specifically, the Civil Service Reform Act includes the following:

Sec. 7113. National consultation rights

(a) If, in connection with any agency, no labor organization has been accorded exclusive recognition on an agency basis, a labor organization which is the exclusive representative of a substantial number of the employees of the agency, as determined in accordance with criteria prescribed by the Authority, shall be granted national consultation rights by the agency. . . .

(b) 1. Any labor organization having national consultation rights in connection with any agency under subsection (a) of this section shall—

(A) be informed of any substantive change in conditions of employment proposed by the agency, and

(B) be permitted reasonable time to present its views and recommendations regarding the changes.

(2) If any views or recommendations are presented under paragraph (1) of this subsection to an agency by any labor organization—

(A) the agency shall consider the views or recommendations before taking final action on any matter with respect to which the views or recommendations are presented; and

(B) the agency shall provide the labor organization a written statement of the reasons for taking the final action.

(C) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the right of any agency or exclusive representative to engage in collective bargaining.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) specifies that substantial number of employees means at least 3,500 or 10 percent of the civilian employees of a specific government agency (whichever is smaller). Unlike in the U.S. private sector, federal government employees can be represented by a union through consultation if the union represents only 10 percent of the employees.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has consulted with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) over issues pertaining to equal employment opportunity procedures, reasonable accommodation, telecommuting, mentoring, child care, and tuition subsidies. Other examples of consultation have changed the Veterans Administration’s policy of providing nurses with annual wage comparability increases to match the local labor market and a National Guard Bureau’s policy allowing National Guard personnel to fill positions previously filled by civilian technicians represented by the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE).

Consultation is not the same as bargaining because management need only consider the union’s views; it does not have to reach agreement before acting. Nevertheless, consultation has the potential to provide employee voice when a union does not represent a majority of the employees (as in the U.S. federal sector) or over a broader range of issues than just working conditions (as in Europe).

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