Guidance on Proper Descriptions of Bargaining Units and Identification of Parties to the Collective Bargaining Relationships in Certifications

PART I. Significance of Certifications of Representative

The certification of representative is the formal document issued by a Regional Director that certifies that a labor organization has been selected as the exclusive representative by a majority of the employees in an appropriate unit who cast valid ballots in a secret ballot election. Once a labor organization is certified, the Federal Service Labor Management Relations Statute (Statute) requires an agency to recognize a labor organization for the purposes of collective bargaining about matters affecting the bargaining unit employees' conditions of employment. The certified union also is required to represent all employees in the bargaining unit without discrimination and without regard to membership in the union.

The bargaining unit sets the stage for the entire collective bargaining process. Maintaining accurate and current certifications is the only way in which the parties to an exclusive bargaining relationship can ensure that the bargaining unit continues to be appropriate and accurately reflects the parties to the bargaining relationship. The Statute includes provisions to clarify or amend any certification relating to the representation of employees in a bargaining unit. Implementing regulations are set forth in Part 2422 of the Authority's Regulations.

Certifications that do not accurately reflect the bargaining unit or the parties to the collective bargaining relationship have the potential of creating a myriad of problems that could result in unfair labor practice charges. For example, an agency may refuse to check-off dues and negotiate with a union based on a dispute over which employees the union represents. Often, these types of disputes may be avoided if the parties file a representation petition to resolve issues concerning their unit descriptions and the identity of the agency and the union.

PART II. Certifications That Do Not Properly Reflect the Recognized Unit or the Parties to the Collective Bargaining Relationship

A certification that does not properly reflect the unit description and the parties to the collective bargaining relationship impairs the parties' ability to carry on the collective bargaining process. This occurs when changes in the description of the unit or in the union's or agency's identity are not reflected in the certification. These are some common situations where a certification can be inaccurate:

1. Changes are made in the status of individual employees in the bargaining unit due to some personnel action.

For example, employees designated as super