Dinsmore's Mark Carter Discusses Expectations for Biden Administration's Federal Service Impasses Panel
Dinsmore labor partner Mark Carter chaired the Federal Service Impasses Panel under President Donald Trump and also served on the panel during the George W. Bush administration. The FSIP is a powerful body that resolves disputes between federal agencies and the unions their employees belong to. President Joe Biden is set to name his own 10-member FSIP, and Carter spoke with Law360 about what the public should expect from the upcoming appointments. Excerpts are below.
Carter, now a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, said the Trump White House looked for previous experience in appointees so the panel could hit the ground running, and he expects Biden will do the same.
Carter said the Trump panel took seriously a series of executive orders issued by Trump in May 2018 that set out the administration's approach to interactions with federal employee unions. The orders made it easier to fire federal workers, limited the amount of time union workers could spend on union activities during the workday and directed agencies to renegotiate union contracts on a compressed deadline, among other things.
"They were the articulation of policy from an elected official — the most powerful elected official in our government — and we looked to those executive orders for guidance when it was legal to do so," Carter said.
Biden withdrew those orders in January, which Carter took as an indication that the administration will take a more conciliatory approach to the issues when negotiating with unions. He said the limits on so-called official time and the length of bargaining were among the most commonly raised issues at the panel during the Trump administration, so the withdrawal of the orders is likely to alter the nature of disputes the Biden panel considers.
"Given what I've seen so far, I would expect that much of the bargaining is going to result in contracts without the need for the panel on those subjects," Carter said.
Carter said ... there is an "enhanced" chance that agencies and unions will deadlock simply because there will be more topics on the table to begin with. He also expects the panel to treat union proposals more favorably, given the pro-union public stance of the president who will staff it.
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