On Tuesday, President Joe Biden demanded the resignations from all 10 members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel. The Federal Service Impasses Panel was a major component of the Trump administration’s attempts to crack down on federal employee unions, by exacting contracts with strong pro-management policies.
Former President Donald Trump had packed the panel with anti-labor partisans during his administration. Many members on this panel did not have background knowledge or experience in labor-management relations that would normally qualify an individual for such a position. Multiple federal employee groups asked and encouraged President Biden to act swiftly to replace all of the panel’s 10 members.
The panel’s job is to resolve disputes between agencies and labor groups that arise during collective bargaining negotiations. Despite the fact that they usually serve set terms, the members do not require Senate confirmation.
The impasses panel became known in many instances as the avenue by which agencies attempted to implement a trio of controversial executive orders with the intent of essentially making it easier to fire federal workers. The panel also worked towards speeding up the collective bargaining process and also seriously restricted the scope of bargaining, as well as significantly reduced union officials’ access to official time.
In a statement on Tuesday, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Secretary-Treasurer Matt Biggs praised Biden’s decision to replace the panel’s members. “The FSIP members unilaterally installed by President Trump can best be described as a ‘who’s who’ of union busters and anti-government ideologues,” he said. “They spent the better part of the last four years unilaterally imposing draconian contracts on federal unions and their members. These are contracts that were not the result of good faith bargaining and compromise. Rather, they were intended to pull the rug out from under the union from any realistic ability to represent their members.”
National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon called Biden’s move “an extremely positive development” for federal labor-management relations, saying the panel’s members should be qualified, experienced, fair and neutral. “The Trump-appointed panel was none of those things, and its record of nearly always siding with agency management, notwithstanding the record before it, proved its bias,” Reardon said. “We believe an FSIP made up of individuals with a background in labor-management relations who are not hostile toward unions or workers will help put federal employee unions and agency leadership back on equal footing, where disagreements can be resolved fairly and in a way that serves the interests of employees, agencies and taxpayers.”