Parties: Dept. of Justice v. FLRA, 975 F.2d 218 (5th Cir. 1992)

Before: United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit on Oct. 20, 1992

Facts: The case before the honorable court was arising out of a dispute between the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and its employees' union. When the INS revised its policy as regards to its investigations involving shooting incidents of its staff. The new policy provided that employees who discharged their firearm or get involved in any shooting scenario, shall be required to afford the organization with a written report within sixteen hours of the occurrence of the incident. The same approach would be accorded to any other employee who is deemed to be a witness during discharging of their duties. In a rejoinder to the revised agency's new policies, the union went ahead to submit six different proposals for a new negotiation for their representatives in the field.

Prior Proceedings: The FLRA had earlier on directed the Immigration and Naturalization Service to negotiate with the workers’ union over the contentious proposal five (5). The Authority had established that Proposal 5 was an "appropriate arrangement" under s7106 (b) (3) and negotiable as a procedure under s7106 (b) (2). Further, the FLRA's application of s7106 (b) (2) and (b) (3) to Proposal 5 is deemed inconsistent with the congressional policy, statutory mandate, and prior FLRA decisions.

Issues presented or questions of law: The issue before the court was whether any agency may purport to commit to an unfair labor practice. The agency goes further to amend a condition of service when a union has challenged it pending to be determined by the Impasses Panel. Arguments or objectives of the parties: The petitioner in this matter was concerned with Proposal 5. The proposal suggests that employees who are involved in a reportable firearms discharge or shooting incident will be given an opportunity to consult with a union representative. The proposal is also intended to be in line with the appropriate Collective Bargaining Agreement Provisions. The Immigration and Naturalization Service declined to have a negotiation with the union over the anticipated proposals. It claimed that under the management rights provision of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act 5 U.S.C. s7106, its proposals were not negotiable. The union implored the Federal Labor Relations Authority to consider the petition by the Authority that were of non-negotiability as per U.S.C. s 7117(c). The Authority was in the view that Proposal 5 was within its powers to negotiate and ordered the Immigration and Naturalization Service to bargain with the union. On appeal, the Immigration and Naturalization Service seeks review of the FLRA's order.

Holding/Rule of law: Upon adjudicating on the issues raised by both sides to the matter, the honorable court held that Proposal 5 is not subject to negotiation and thus reverse the FLRA's order.

Rationale: The Federal Labor Relations Authority was intended to develop a specialized expertise in its field to give content to the objectives and principles promoted by the Act. Subsequently, the body is authorized to significantly regard its position when exercising its distinct function of applying the general provision of the Act of federal labor relations.

Relation of case to the core value of Integrity: The court put into consideration that Federal Labor Relations Authority decisions is significant. It has however, unequivocally warned the decision by the labor body to be permitted as a judicial inertia. The consequence of the same is that agencies will unlawfully assume policy decisions properly made by Congress. It further expanded that while reviewing any requests by petitioners and respondents, they should uphold reasonable and impregnable constructions of an agency's empowering Act. The courts have the discretion of not rubber stamping the administrative decisions that they deem to be frustrating the congressional policy or inconsistent with a statutory mandate statute.

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