Federal Labor Relations

A Program in Need of Reform Gao ID: GGD-91-101 July 30, 1991

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Federal Labor-Management Relations Program to determine if changes were needed to make it operate more effectively and efficiently.

GAO found that: (1) 29 of the 30 federal labor-management experts GAO surveyed noted that collective bargaining in the government was too legalistic and adversarial, and too often led to litigation over procedural matters on minor disputes; (2) the experts also noted that some dispute resolution mechanisms were too slow, lengthy, and complex, and that ineffective Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) management has weakened the federal labor-management relations program; (3) more than two-thirds of the experts supported an agency shop approach, which requires employees to pay fees to the unions that represent them even if they do belong to the union; (4) over half of the agency officials opposed any bargaining changes, but all union officials and over 80 percent of neutrals supported increased bargaining rights; (5) more than three-fourths of union officials and neutrals believed that labor relations was a low priority for federal agencies and was not well integrated into agency operations, but the majority of agency officials disagreed; (6) agency officials and most neutrals believed unions filed too many unfair labor practice charges over minor issues, but union officials believed that FLRA failed to order strong remedies to deter statute violations by agency officials; (7) agency and union representatives tended to agree with their respective headquarters' program assessments, but they differed widely in their view of how well programs worked at the local level; and (8) more than 65 percent of the agency and union respondents reported that their installations and offices had participated in cooperative labor-management initiatives and most respondents stated that they wanted to be involved in future cooperative efforts.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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