NFFE, LOCAL 139 v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
97-1184
Petitioner 
NFFE, Local 139
Respondent 
Department of the Interior
Consolidation 
No. 97-1243
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Department of Justice, on behalf of the respondents)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The National Federation of Federal Employees, a federal employees' union, proposed to include a provision obligating the Interior Department to negotiate midterm matters not in the original contract between the union and the Agency. The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, that created the Federal Labor Relations Authority, requires federal agencies and their employees' unions to negotiate in good faith to arrive at a collective bargaining agreement. Initially, the Authority held that the good-faith bargaining clause did not extend to union-initiated proposals during the term of the basic contract. The Court of Appeals did not agree and, in turn, the Authority reversed its decision. The Interior Department refused the proposal on the ground that union-initiated midterm bargaining is inconsistent with the Statute. The Authority then ordered the Agency to comply with the bargaining.

Question 

Can federal agencies be required to bargain with federal employees' unions over issues that arise during the duration of a contract?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for NFFE, Local 139, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 5 U.S.C. 7101

Yes. In a 5-4 decision, announced by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court ruled that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute gave the Federal Labor Relations Authority power to determine whether parties must engage in midterm bargaining. Justice Breyer wrote, "Congress delegated to the authority the power to determine -- within appropriate legal bounds...whether, when, where and what sort of midterm bargaining is required."

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NFFE, LOCAL 139 v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_1184>.
NFFE, LOCAL 139 v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_1184 (last visited November 26, 2014).
"NFFE, LOCAL 139 v. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 26, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_1184.