Biden Seeks to End Years of Corrupt Decisions with a New FLRA Board


June 13, 2023

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) is a little-known agency, but it ranks high with anti-government politicians who seek to impede labor relations in the Executive Branch by nominating underqualified members to its board. From 2017 until 2022, Trump appointees James T. Abbott and Colleen Duffy Kiko ran the board with the power to produce biased and inane majority decisions aimed at dismantling the rights of federal workers.

Often admonished by Congress and colleagues, the duo was also reprimanded and vacated by superior courts more than any other FLRA board in history. Unabashedly, if not eagerly willing to prove their misunderstanding of basic legal concepts, a 2022 D.C. Circuit decision offered a strong rebuke of their wisdom by noting, “The cursory policy statement that the FLRA issued to justify its choice to abandon thirty-five years of precedent promoting and applying the de minimis standard and to adopt the previously rejected substantial-impact test is arbitrary and capricious.” 

Abbott, recently charged by the Department of Justice for bizarre, partisan shenanigans regarding his financial disclosure filings, left the FLRA in 2022. However, his protégé Kiko remains because she was nominated by Former President Trump in 2017 to take the five year term from sitting member and FLRA Chairman Ernie DuBester. DuBester, in turn, was nominated by Trump to take Kiko’s two-year term, forcing DuBester to give up the term he held since 2009. And it gets worse.

In 2021, President Biden nominated the distinguished three-time unanimously Senate confirmed DuBester for another term. DuBester’s nomination was blocked by former Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) who disgracefully traded away his integrity to request a bogus inspector general report to delay DuBester’s consideration until the new congress. The inspector general ruled the report as completely unfounded, but DuBester chose retirement instead of enduring yet another brutal nomination. Portman, on the other hand, today enjoys a “fellowship” with the American Enterprise Institute, a notoriously anti-labor organization that often helps wayward political operatives between jobs.

“The politics behind this little agency is insane,“ stated NFFE executive director Steve Lenkart. “Instead of being a noncontroversial adjudicator of federal labor-management disputes, for seven years the FLRA has been subject to nonstop political drama by its detractors. The fact that well-funded outside organizations have such an interest in the agency should cause one to pause, especially given that management prevails 60% of the time even without biased board members.”

“NFFE is relieved to see two very qualified, seasoned experts nominated to the FLRA,” continued Lenkart. “Nancy Speight, who has a solid record of adjudication and workforce expertise; and Suzanne Summerlin for General Counsel, who brings impartial investigative and representational skills to keep the agency on track. I am delighted to see Ms. Speight nominated to Ernie DuBester’s former term—to right that egregious wrong—and I look forward to both nominees quickly joining Susan Grundmann at the FLRA to restore integrity in its decisions.”