INFORMATION REQUESTS UNION PREVAILS
VAMC Decatur and NFFE Local 2102, 71 FLRA 428 (Nov. 26, 2019), a ULP decision, found the VA on the losing end of a complaint by the FLRA GC when the agency failed to provide sufficiently specific information on the results of an agency investigation into bargaining unit members' complaints to VA officials that managers were engaged in fraud and intimidation as to a program designed to benefit homeless veterans. One or more managers were disciplined, but the agency declined to provide specifics in response to the Union's information request. Privacy interests did not excuse the lapses in the VA's response to that request.
Rejecting as and excuse repeated requests by management to the Union for greater specificity in its requests, FLRA explained:
In many cases, a union will not be aware of the contents of a requested document, and the degree of specificity required of a union must take that into account. . . . We reject the argument that a union has failed to articulate its need with requisite specificity, where, as here, the information request referenced a specific agency action and specified that the union needed the information to assess: (1) whether the agency violated established policies, and (2) whether to file a grievance, even though the union did not explain exactly how the information would enable it to determine whether to file a grievance. The Authority has emphasized that such information is necessary because arbitration can function properly only when the grievance procedures leading to it are able to sift out unmeritorious grievances.
As to privacy interests:
[C]onsidering the nature and scope of the wrongdoing at issue, as well as the fact that the disciplined employees were management officials, we discern no error in the Judge's finding that identification of those individuals would "further the public interest in ensuring that 'disciplinary measures imposed are adequate, and that those who are accountable are dealt with in an appropriate manner.'" The Agency's bare assertion that it "took appropriate discipline against the managers who were recommended discipline" is insufficient to serve that purpose.