National Treasury Employees Union v. FLRA, No. 20-1400 (D.C. Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Department of Agriculture asked the FLRA for guidance on whether an agency head may review a collective bargaining agreement when it is extended under a continuance clause. The Authority concluded that agency heads may do so. It further concluded that, when an agreement is so extended, the employing agency may begin to enforce regulations that conflict with the agreement and that became effective after the agreement’s original effective date. Member DuBester dissented. In his view, the Authority should not have given general guidance divorced from the precise language of specific continuance clauses. Further, he concluded that the guidance conflicts with the Statute and with FLRA precedent.
Three unions petitioned for review of the FLRA’s order. The USDA, along with the Office of Personnel Management, intervened to defend the guidance. The DC Circuit granted the petitions for review. The court held that because invoking a continuance clause does not execute a new agreement, there is no statutory basis for a second round of agency-head review. Further, because the invocation of a continuance clause extends a collective bargaining agreement pending negotiations over its successor, the existing agreement remains “in effect” until a new agreement is in place. Thus, the employing agency may not enforce regulations that conflict with the agreement and that became effective after it did.