Union Station: Biden appoints 10 members to Federal Service Impasses Panel

Biden appoints 10 members to Federal Service Impasses Panel

On Aug. 23, President Joe Biden (D) announced the names of 10 individuals he planned to appoint to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP), which has been vacant since shortly after Biden took office. The FSIP is an entity of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). 

Biden asked the 10 FSIP members who were on the panel when he took office to resign in February, ultimately firing two who did not resign. This move was considered routine: Barack Obama (D) discharged the George W. Bush (R) administration’s panel in March 2009 and Donald Trump (R) discharged the Obama administration’s panel in May 2017. 

According to U.S. Code, the FSIP’s function is “to provide assistance in resolving negotiation impasses between agencies and exclusive representatives.” 

Everett Kelley, president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), responded to the appointments: “AFGE strongly supports President Biden’s selections to the Federal Service Impasses Panel. We are confident that these members will fairly resolve labor disputes between unions and agencies and restore dignity and fairness to the panel and its important work on behalf of federal employees.” The AFL-CIO affiliated AFGE is the country’s largest federal workers’ union. 

AFGE filed multiple lawsuits against the Trump administration panel which alleged—among other complaints—that members of the panel should have been confirmed by the Senate. They based this on the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Some of these lawsuits have been dismissed. However, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that another pending case “may well be a meaningful avenue to review [the AFGE’s] Appointments Clause challenge.” George W. Bush nominated Leon to the court. 

According to Reuters, FSIP appointees “are traditionally not confirmed by the Senate because the panel is subordinate to the Federal Labor Relations Authority.” Biden did not seek Senate confirmation for his appointees. 

Obama named seven new appointees to the panel in September 2009, and Trump named his first seven appointees in July 2017. 

About the Federal Service Impasses Panel

Title 5 Section 7119 of the U.S. Code says, “The Panel shall be composed of a Chairman and at least six other members, who shall be appointed by the President, solely on the basis of fitness to perform duties and functions involved, from among individuals who are familiar with Government operations and knowledgeable in labor-management relations.” Members serve five-year terms unless appointed to fill a vacancy, in which case they serve the predecessor’s unexpired term. 

The panel investigates requests for assistance in resolving disputes between federal agencies and unions and may make recommendations or guide the parties through dispute resolution steps. According to the panel’s website, “If the parties still are unable to reach a voluntary settlement after the use of these procedures, the Panel may take whatever action it deems necessary to resolve the dispute.” This includes setting contract terms that are not able to be appealed. 

Past FSIP decisions can be viewed here.  

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