The Federal Labor Relations Authority will file at least two complaints against the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation , alleging unfair labor practices in DOT's employee drug testing, The Journal of Commerce has learned.
The Professional Airways Systems Specialists, a union representing the agency's maintenance technicians and other flight service personnel, filed eight charges against the two institutions which led to the FLRA complaints.The union seeks an end of DOT screening of its members until negotiations can be completed through the normal routine, explained Joseph E. Kolick Jr. He is a Washington-based lawyer with the firm of Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin, which represents the union.
One unit of the union represents FAA employees responsible for installing and maintaining air traffic control, communications and computer equipment. A second unit provides quality assurance of air traffic systems by flying test aircraft which monitors the systems' performance.
Another union's attempt to press unfair labor charges against both FAA and DOT failed.
According to Joseph W. Noonan, the air agency's director of labor relations, negotiations were progressing but incomplete when the drug screening program was implemented.
We were willing and capable of negotiating the impact and implementation agreement, but the union declared an impasse when there really was no impasse at all, Mr. Noonan said.
A letter from the union's lawyers to the Region 3 director of the labor relations authority contains claims that the aviation agency needed to be dragged to the bargaining table . . . was presented with three different sets of proposals . . . conceded that numerous union proposals were negotiated . . . conceded that bargaining over those proposals was not at impasse, and . . . unilaterally implemented the program after the union submitted its proposals to the Federal Service Impasses Panel.
According to Howard E. Johannssen, union president, the aviation agency refused to negotiate some areas of the drug testing program and suspended negotiations on other facets after then-Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole ordered implementation of a drug-testing program, department-wide, in September.
Letters between the union and FAA and DOT officials reveal that the union, indeed, attempted to negotiate three different sets of proposals regarding the
drug testing program.
Copies of those letters obtained by The Journal of Commerce also show that the aviation agency conceded that the so-called impact and implementation proposals were negotiable, in the opinion of the FAA.
But when the order came down to implement the program, the FAA stopped negotiations, even though we had appealed to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, Mr. Johannssen said. The impasse panel serves as an arbitrator between union and management on stalled negotiations.
Since the program was revealed, several court actions challenging the program on constitutional grounds failed to either stop testing or alter the nature of the DOT program.
Because of failed attempts to halt the drug screens on constitutional grounds, employee groups have turned to the collective bargaining process to craft safeguards for the workers they represent.