Executive Order 10988 of 1962 and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978

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  • 0:02 Executive Order 10988
  • 2:19 Executive Order 11491
  • 3:52 Civil Service Reform…
  • 6:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Public sector employees are subject to some different labor relation laws. In this lesson, you'll learn about Executive Order 10988, Executive Order 11491, and the Civil Reform Act of 1978. A short quiz follows.

Executive Order 10988

Gary works for a federal agency in Washington D.C. He's also a member of a union. This probably doesn't appear to be a big deal to most. What may surprise you is that while private sector employees have had the legally protected right to organize into unions and collectively bargain with their employers since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, public sector employees didn't enjoy the same rights under the Act.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988, entitled Employee-Management Cooperation in the Federal Sector, which was an important milestone toward the expansion of labor rights for civil servants.

Executive Order 10988 gave civil servants like Gary the right to form, join and assist labor organizations like unions. The Executive Order provides a three-level system of recognizing labor organizations:

  • If a majority of Gary's co-workers designate a union to represent them, agency management must negotiate with the union as the employees' exclusive representative over the terms and conditions of employment. This is much the same as a private sector union.
  • If a group of employees, called a unit, is not exclusively represented, the agency must still give formal recognition to all unions representing more than 10% of the employees in the unit. This means that the agency must consult with each of these unions when creating and implementing agency personnel policies and procedures that will affect employees' work conditions.
  • Even if Gary's union represents 10% or less of the employees in the unit, the order does not permit the agency to ignore the union. The order requires that the agency informally recognize all unions, regardless of whether another union has exclusive representation. All unions that represent employees have the right to present the views and concerns of their members to agency management.

Executive Order 11491

President Nixon revoked Executive Order 10988 with his issuance of Executive Order 11491 in 1969. This order expanded upon the rights of civil servants under Executive Order 10988. It also developed a framework that regulated labor-management relationships in the Federal Government. Finally, it outlined specific unfair labor practices and permitted binding arbitration between unions and agencies in certain circumstances. An important distinction between the private sector and the public sector under the order was that public sector employees like Gary could not strike or picket their employers during labor disputes because it is considered an unfair labor practice under the Executive Order 11491.

President Nixon's Executive Order also established the Federal Labor Relations Council and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. The Federal Labor Relations Council was responsible for overseeing the entire system. It was responsible for interpreting the Executive Order, making policy decisions, handling appeals relating to unfair labor practices and responding to representation claims. The Federal Service Impasses Panel, on the other hand, has authority to help unions and agencies solve bargaining impasses.

Civil Service Reform Act of 1978

As a civil servant, Gary is subject to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSA). The Act was an attempt to create a more productive and fair personnel management system for the federal government and help protect career civil service workers from undue political interference. It codified many of the principles and concepts found in the previous Executive Orders. Some of the key provisions include:

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