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Employee Rights, Labor-Management Relations


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.


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