Negotiations - General Overview

The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute outlines the broad topics that must be negotiated with a labor union, those that are reserved to management, and those that may be negotiated at management's discretion (commonly referred to as permissive rights). The obligation to negotiate requires discussion and consideration of the other side's proposals with a good faith effort to reach agreement -- it does not compel either side to agree to a proposal or to make a concession.

The negotiating process is designed to promote the balancing of the rights and interests of employees and the union with those of management, and to foster a two-way flow of communication.

Negotiating with the labor union occurs at various times and for different reasons. The most publicized occasion is the formal negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. These are full scope negotiations. This process results in a written collective bargaining agreement signed by both management and the union addressing various personnel policies, practices, and conditions of employment. The agreement is normally distributed or made available to everyone at the installation affected by its application. The document may be referred to as the contract, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or the labor-management negotiated agreement. It is normally subject to renegotiations every three years but is frequently automatically renewed (rolled over) from year to year. Once negotiated, the agreement is subject to agency head review by the Department of Defense, which reviews the agreement for any statutory violations.

More frequently, negotiations arise as a result of management-proposed changes to bargaining unit employees' conditions of employment which are not addressed in the parties' negotiated agreement or where there is no current agreement. These negotiations are typically referred to as mid-term negotiations. In these cases, when an agency decides to make changes to conditions of employment during the life of an agreement or when there is no agreement, two types of negotiations may result:

  1. negotiations on the decision itself (substance bargaining); and/or
  2. negotiations on the effects of the proposed change -- normally referred to as impact and implementation bargaining or I&I bargaining. I&I bargaining occurs when management’s proposed change falls within management’s reserved rights.

Where the outcome of negotiations may affect or impact Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) operations or require the CPAC to take certain actions, close coordination between management and the CPAC is required.

Content last reviewed: 11/15/2016-DAH