Biden names slate of FSIP appointees

Months after clearing out Trump appointees, Biden nominated appointees to fill the Federal Services Impasses Panel, a key institution in the federal labor-management relations space.

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan Act in the Oval Office, March 11, 2021

President Joe Biden announced a list of 10 nominees for the Federal Services Impasses Panel, which resolves disputes that arise during negotiations between unions and agencies, on Aug. 23.

The panel, part of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, has been without members since Biden pushed out former President Donald Trump's FSIP appointees in February 2020.

Biden tapped Martin Malin, a longtime professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, to serve as FSIP chair. Malin also served on FSIP from 2009 to 2017 after being appointed twice by former President Barack Obama.

For members, Biden has chosen Wynter Allen, Jeanne Charles, Howard Friedman, Edward Hartfield, Marvin Johnson, Mark Pearce, Pamela Schwartz, Joseph Slater and Tamiko Watkins.

Allen, Charles and Slater come with labor and employment law backgrounds.

Friedman is a former president of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 245 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Schwartz is also a veteran of the federal labor management space, where she's held leadership positions in the Patent Office Professional Association, including union president.

Hartfield was previously appointed to FSIP by Presidents Obama and Clinton, and Johnson has also already served three terms as a member of FSIP. Pearce is a former chair of the National Labor Relations Board.

Finally, Watkins is coming to this role after working as an Assistant General Counsel at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, where she is the senior legal advisor on employment and administrative law.

Since clearing the panel, Biden has faced pressure from some employee unions to appoint members to the panel. In a letter dated July 23, the Federal Workers Alliance, which represents over 15 unions with federal workers, pressed him to fill the panel.

"A growing FSIP backlog halts progress on critical workplace issues and leaves both employees and agencies in limbo as they wait adjudication," the letter said.

During the Trump years, the panel was subject to lawsuits from federal employee unions charging that the board members' appointments were unconstitutional because they weren't Senate-confirmed.

Unions have also said that the Trump-appointed panel was biased against unions in its work.

In a statement about the new nominees, however, National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said that "their experience in federal labor-management relations makes them well-qualified for their role in reaching fair resolutions to bargaining impasses."

"During the previous administration, the FSIP was often hostile toward the role unions play in federal government operations and issued an overwhelming majority of opinions that favored management," he said. "The FSIP was in dire need of objective labor relations professionals and this new list of appointees meets that standard. We look forward to the FSIP returning to its role as a neutral mediator in federal sector bargaining, just as Congress intended."

At FLRA, Biden has replaced the chairman with a Senate-confirmed board member and appointed another member and the general counsel who are awaiting confirmation.