FLRA v. Aberdeen Proving Ground, Dept. of Army

485 U. S. 409

April 4, 1988

Federal employers do not need to negotiate with unions over any matter where the employer is just following regulations – unless the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) determines that there is no “compelling need” for the regulation. There was a dispute at an army base about Black Friday being a day off. The army stood behind a regulation, but the union began an unfair labor practice proceeding anyway. The FLRA backed the union, without first determining that there was no “compelling need” for the regulation.

In an unanimous per curiam, the Supreme Court stopped these FLRA shenanigans. The statutory text, legislative history, and purposes of the law were all in agreement. The FLRA simply could not rule for a union in an unfair labor practice proceeding without first deciding that there wasn’t a compelling need for the regulation. Open and shut plain language case. There’s been quite a few of those lately. It’s really a shame that courts have to waste so much time with litigation involving blatant failures to abide by simple statutory text.

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