Section 220 of the Congressional Accountability
Act (CAA) protects Congressional employees’ rights to form,
join, or assist a labor organization for the purpose of collective
bargaining without fear of penalty or reprisal. The rights of employees
who choose not to join or participate in a labor organization are
also protected. Not all Congressional employees are currently permitted
to seek representation through a labor organization.
Employees choose in an election whether they
would like to have a union represent them. These elections are supervised
and the results certified by the Office of Compliance, and the CAA
spells out the specific process
under which this election takes place. A majority of the employees
who vote must be in favor of unionization for a labor organization
to become their exclusive bargaining representative.
The law vests employing offices and labor organizations
with rights and responsibilities with respect to both the establishment
and the conduct of a collective
bargaining relationship. Upon the certification of a labor organization
as the exclusive bargaining representative, an employing office
is under an obligation
to recognize the labor organization as the bargaining agent
of its employees. At the request of the labor organization, the
employing office must meet and negotiate in good faith for the purpose
of entering into a collective bargaining agreement.
Unlike the private sector, the CAA provides no
right to strike, nor is there a right to engage in a work stoppage
or slowdown. Picketing of an employing office in a labor-management
dispute is also not permitted if the picketing interferes with an
employing office's operations. The General
Counsel of the Office of Compliance investigates and prosecutes
unfair labor practice
charges. An employing office, a labor organization, or any individual
may file an unfair labor practice charge with the General Counsel.