From Government Executive:
An independent arbitrator last week ruled that the Social Security Administration violated federal labor law by engaging in bad faith bargaining in its contract negotiations with a union representing administrative law judges who preside over Social Security disability cases.
The ruling is a result of a grievance filed by the Association of Administrative Law Judges, which accused the agency of repeatedly denying the union’s requests for information while the parties prepared to negotiate a new contract.
In its grievance, the union highlighted a number of instances when routine requests for data related to provisions in its collective bargaining agreement were delayed or denied. These requests included detailed disposition data for the agency’s administrative law judge corps, the estimated cost of training a new administrative law judge, the criteria by which the agency places ALJs under “close supervision” and data supporting the need for the agency’s demand for a seven-year contract term.
In many of these cases, arbitrator Malcolm Pritzker found the agency’s denials did not meet the standard needed to justify withholding information. In one instance, he noted that although the agency claimed the union’s request regarding the proposed contract duration was “not related to collective bargaining,” officials eventually used the requested data as part of the agency's justification for the contract length before the Federal Service Impasses Panel. ...