National Treasury Employees Union v. Chertoff

452 F.3d 839 (2006)

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National Treasury Employees Union v. Chertoff

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
452 F.3d 839 (2006)

  • Written by Mike Begovic, JD

Facts

In 2002 Congress enacted the Homeland Security Act (HSA) to establish the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In doing so, Congress empowered the secretary of DHS, Michael Chertoff, (defendant), to create jointly with the director of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations establishing a human resources system for the department. Congress prescribed limitations, including that the system be: (1) flexible; (2) contemporary; (3) not waive, modify, or otherwise affect existing statutes related to merit hiring, equal pay, whistleblowing, and prohibited personnel practices; and (4) ensure that employees could bargain collectively and participate in labor organizations of their own choosing. The HSA also mandated that DHS employees receive fair treatment in any appeals they brought in employment decisions. The HSA made no mention of Chapter 71 of the United States Code, which codified the Federal Services Labor-Management Statutes (FMLMS). The FMLMS contained the framework for federal-sector-employee collective bargaining. In February 2005, the OPM issued regulations for the new human resources system (the final rule), which defined the scope and process for collective bargaining. Under the final rule, many aspects of employment were placed off limits for collective bargaining, including areas essential to employment. The new system gave management full discretion over all aspects of the workplace except personal employee grievances. Explicitly excluded from bargaining were things such as personal hardship and safety measures, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, and the routine assignment of duties and work schedules. Unions (plaintiffs) representing DHS employees challenged certain aspects of the final rule as violating the HSA in federal district court. The district court agreed with the unions’ claims that the regulations would not ensure collective bargaining, but rejected its claims that the regulations impermissibly restricted the scope of bargaining. DHS appealed the decision, and the unions cross-appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Edwards, J.)

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