Government union's stalling tactics block workers' representation vote
Washington, DC (April 3, 2014) – A Wallops Island NASA employee filed a federal brief with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) defending his and his coworkers' request to vote on their union representation for the first time in 40 years.
Ronald Walsh, a 10 year NASA employee, filed the brief yesterday with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Forty years ago, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union hierarchy won monopoly bargaining powers in Walsh's workplace. Since then, five AFGE-affiliated unions have enjoyed monopoly bargaining powers over the workplace without a vote.
Walsh believed that the union in his workplace was out of tune with the majority of his coworkers. So in June, 2013, Walsh circulated a decertification petition at his workplace seeking a vote which would allow the workers to determine if they would like to keep the AFGE Local 1923 union in their workplace. Within a few days, Walsh obtained the required 30 percent of his coworkers' signatures and filed the petition on June 17, 2013.
An FLRA Regional Director dismissed Walsh's petition, stating that he could only file it between July 10 and August 26, 2013. However, the FLRA Regional Director allowed the union to wait to object to Walsh's petition on those grounds until August 27, 2013 – one day after the supposed deadline.
Had the union made its objection within the "window period," when originally due, Walsh would have been able to timely refile his petition.
In the brief, Walsh points out that the FLRA's so-called "window period" does not apply to decertification petitions filed by individuals and that any other interpretation of the statute could violate workers' First Amendment rights.
"No worker should be forced to accept a union's representation without a say in the matter," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "The FLRA should allow these workers a voice to determine for themselves what union 'represents' them or if they even want something to do with a union in the first place."