Nat’l Air Traffic Controllers Assoc. AFL-CIO

A Union acts in bad faith against union members when the union discriminatorily and retroactively applies a new seniority policy that punishes certain bargaining unit employees.  On the day which the Federal Aviation Administration’s new work rules were to be implemented against the NATCA’s wishes, the NATCA applied an amendment to its national constitution, whereby any employee who left a NATCA bargaining-unit position and then worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in “a supervisor/management job” would lose all previously acquired bargaining-unit seniority, affecting any bargaining unit members who had ever helped the FAA in a management or supervisory role.  A labor union has a duty to represent all employees in the unit it represents without discrimination and without regard to labor organization membership, and to “serve the interests of all members [of a bargaining unit] without hostility or discrimination toward any, to exercise discretion with complete good faith and honesty, and to avoid arbitrary conduct.” The Administration upheld the Judge’s ruling that the retroactive application of the amendment was in bad faith because it discriminatorily targeted only certain employees and because the application was retroactive, meaning that employees did not realize that they would be penalized when they left their bargaining unit positions. This ruling is likely to limit union discretion to establish union seniority measures in certain circumstances.

See Nat’l Air Traffic Controllers Assoc. AFL-CIO, 66 F.L.R.A. 467, 473 (2012); see also 5 U.S.C. § 7114(a)(1); Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177 (1967); See NTEU v. FLRA, 800 F.2d at 1171 (duty of fair representation recognized for unions in the private sector; accord, e.g., AFGE, Local 1857, AFL-CIO, 46 FLRA 904, 910 (1992).

(Development authored by Christy Wu)