Ranking Member Raskin, Sen. Brian Schatz Introduce Bill to Codify Federal Labor-Management Forums

Mar 21, 2024
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (March 21, 2024)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and Sen. Brian Schatz introduced legislation to codify important principles from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order 14119 to empower workers to communicate directly with agency officials and jointly improve their workplaces.  The Federal Labor-Management Partnerships Act would ensure that these Labor-Management Forums (LMFs) are codified into law so a future president cannot disband them.

 

“Labor-Management Forums are crucial to keeping the channels of dialogue open and fostering strong partnerships between federal workers and agency management.  Our history in the field shows that collaboration between workers and management ensures that federal agencies are working efficiently and integrating the perspectives of all stakeholders when consequential decisions are being made about the workplace,” stated Ranking Member Raskin.  “The workplace works best when workers have a seat at the table, and this legislation makes certain that no future president can take that away.”

 

“We know that when federal workers have a direct line to management to raise concerns or work out any problems, our government works better for everyone. Labor-Management Councils have been proven to work, and it’s time we bring them back and make them permanent in the federal government,” said Senator Schatz.

 

The Federal Labor-Management Partnerships Act would create a National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations to advise the President on labor-management relations in the executive branch; direct the Council to help agencies collect and disseminate guidance and best practices based on their own, individual labor-management partnerships; and require each agency, including legislative branch agencies, to create labor-management forums to allow employees and employee representatives to have pre-decisional involvement in workplace matters.

 

This bill has been endorsed by the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, the National Federation of Federal Employees, the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, the Federal Managers Association, and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

 

Background

 

On March 6, 2024, President Biden signed Executive Order 14119, “Scaling and Expanding the Use of Registered Apprenticeships in Industries and the Federal Government and Promoting Labor-Management Forums,” directing executive branch agencies to establish Labor-Management Forums and allow employees and their representatives to have pre-decisional involvement in workplace matters.

 

Presidents Clinton and Obama signed similar executive orders, which were successful in improving the workplace culture. Prior to being disbanded by the Trump Administration, these panels helped the Patent and Trademark Office reduce patent-application backlogs and processing time, while also improving worker satisfaction; allowed the Department of the Treasury to retrain employees and improve performance in the Financial Management Service; and facilitated the Department of Commerce’s optimization of telework policies.

 

On July 29, 2020, Sen. Brian Schatz led a group of six senators in introducing the Federal Labor-Management COVID Partnership Act, which would have given federal workers a voice to provide input into the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

 

On February 25, 2019, then-Chairman Elijah E. Cummings and Rep. Don Young introduced similar legislation to codify these advisory panels in the executive branch.  Today’s legislation builds upon this bill by expanding the requirement of LMFs to legislative branch agencies as well.

 

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118th Congress