As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Here’s the result of an unfair labor practice complaint filed against the National Labor Relations Board by the union of employees who work there. It gives as neat a picture of public sector collective bargaining as anything I’ve ever seen. It’s worth your time to read at least these two paragraphs.
When the National Labor Relations Board announced it would be moving its headquarters to a new building in a different part of the District of Columbia, the National Labor Relations Board Union asked to bargain over the relocation, and the parties ultimately signed a ground rules agreement providing for two days of bargaining. Substantive bargaining did not begin until the second day, at which time the parties discussed most of the forty-one proposals submitted by the Union. During these negotiations, the Agency spokesman stated that the Agency did not have information on, and had not made decisions about, several issues raised in the Union’s proposals, including matters relating to the office furniture to be used at the new headquarters.
In the late afternoon, about an hour before bargaining was scheduled to end, the Agency’s bargaining team submitted twenty-three counter-proposals. About two hours later, the Union team submitted five of its own counter-proposals, which the Agency rejected. the Union asked to submit its remaining counter-proposals the following week, and to resume bargaining thereafter, since it had not had time to prepare a response on all issues. The Agency denied the request, insisting that the ground rules limited bargaining to two days. However, in an attempt to “reach an agreement” or at least “narrow the issues,” the Agency offered to continue bargaining into the night. The Union declined to stay beyond 6:30 pm, and the Agency declared that negotiations were terminated. A few days later, the Union tried to initiate mediation of the dispute, but the Agency refused to participate. In the weeks and months that followed, the Agency unilaterally made decisions about the design and layout of the new headquarters, including issues such as office furniture and other matters that had been discussed (but not resolved) during bargaining.
Administrative Law Judge Richard A. Pearson concluded that there was potential for further and productive bargaining “if only the Agency had the patience to persist beyond its arbitrary deadline.” He ruled that the NLRB “violated its duty to bargain and deprived the Union of a proper opportunity to negotiate the impact and implementation of the move to a new headquarters.”
You probably don’t want to delve into the 40 pages covering two years of nonsense, but you ought to know that the proposals and counter-proposals concerned things like coat hooks, the height of cubicle walls, whether offices would have frosted glass windows, and the storage of paper and toner. This led to the lovely irony of the NLRB’s assistant general counsel for labor and employee relations telling the union “We can’t bargain all of these day-to-day decisions.”
H/T: Politico’s Morning Shift.