Section 220 of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) applies certain provisions of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS) and protects the rights of some legislative branch employees to form, join, or assist a labor organization (union) 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.

The decision to have a labor organization represent employees with management is made in a secret ballot election among the affected employees, also known as the “bargaining unit.” These elections are supervised and the results certified by the Office of Compliance (OOC). The CAA spells out the specific process under which this election takes place. A majority of the employees in the bargaining unit who vote must be in favor of unionization for a labor organization to become their exclusive representative.

The law vests employing offices and labor organizations with rights and responsibilities to both the establishment and the conduct of a collective bargaining relationship. The law also forbids certain unfair labor practices by both employing offices and labor organizations.

The General Counsel of the OOC investigates and prosecutes unfair labor practice charges. Unfair labor practice charges can be made by an employing office, a labor organization, or an individual. Charges must be made within 180 days of the occurrence of an alleged unfair labor practice. The parties have 15 days to informally resolve their dispute.

If there is no resolution within the 15-day period, the General Counsel will conduct an investigation.  After an investigation, the General Counsel will either dismiss a charge or file a complaint if an unfair labor practice has taken place.  After filing a complaint, proceedings before an independent hearing officer with the OOC begin.  Decisions by hearing officers may be appealed to the Board of Directors of the OOC, then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and ultimately the United States Supreme Court.

Unlike the private sector, the CAA does not permit legislative branch employees 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.

This is only a brief description of the labor laws under the CAA. For complete information on the rights, procedures, and remedies established by the CAA, refer to the Congressional Accountability Act(2 U.S.C. 1301 et seq.) and the OOC’s Procedural Rules.

Click the link to download a Charge Against an Employing Office or Charge Against a Labor Organization.

Please drop off completed form at the Office of Compliance or fax to: (202) 426-1913.