Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

PETITIONER: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
RESPONDENT: Federal Labor Relations Authority
LOCATION: The D&B Corporation

DOCKET NO.: 82-799
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 464 US 89 (1983)
ARGUED: Oct 11, 1983
DECIDED: Nov 29, 1983

ADVOCATES:
Carolyn F. Corwin - on behalf of the Petitioner
Carolyn Frances Corwin - on behalf of the petitioner -- rebuttal
Ruth E. Peters - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 11, 1983 in Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms v. Federal Labor Relations Authority

Warren E. Burger:

Ms. Corwin, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The question presented by this case is a straightforward one.

It is whether Congress intended for union dues or the federal taxpayers to fund the travel expenses and per diem of federal employees who represent their unions in collective bargaining.

Federal agencies pay such expenses for their own representatives at collective bargaining sessions.

The question here is whether the Respondent.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority, correctly concluded that Congress also meant for the agencies to fund the similar expenses of the union representatives to those sessions.

The statute the Court must construe in this case is Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act passed by Congress in 1978.

Title VII establishes a statutory framework for the federal labor management relations program.

That program formerly had been governed by executive order, and under the executive order program the unions bore their own travel expenses and per diem.

There was no entitlement under the executive order program to any reimbursement from federal agencies for those expenses.

Title VII sets out a series of detailed provisions governing the federal labor relations program.

None of those provisions addresses the subject of travel expenses and per diem.

The Authority has cited Section 7131 of the statute, and that section relates to authorization of official time for employee union representatives.

In Section 7131 Congress went quite far in subsidizing the collective bargaining process in the federal sector by providing for federal payment of the salaries of the employee union negotiators.

The question here is whether the Respondent, the FLRA, correctly concluded that Congress meant to go further in subsidizing the collective bargaining process by funding another category of expenses, the travel expenses and per diem of the employee union representatives.

William H. Rehnquist:

Ms. Corwin, in 7131(a) where the statute says that the employee representative, exclusive representative, shall be authorized official time for such purposes, does that mean anything more than that his federal salary will be paid during those and he will not have to take leave?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

That is the understanding.

The term "official time" is one that had grown up within the federal labor relations program under the executive order.

It had always been understood to connote payment of salary.

Now it also meant that you did not lose time in terms of accruing other benefits such as pension rights and so on, but the basic principle was that official time meant payment of your salary.

Thurgood Marshall:

Does that mean travel time?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

It did not mean travel time under the executive order program, and we suggest that the term "official time" as it grew up in the labor relations program indicated that you did not have this right to federal reimbursement of your travel time.

Byron R. White:

Did it not at least mean that you were on official business?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

No, it definitely--

Byron R. White:

You mean they were paying the employee when he was on unofficial business?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

--The understanding of official time was that the salary was paid--

Byron R. White:

Because why?

Carolyn Frances Corwin:

--There were several reasons that... Are you referring to the old executive order program at this point?

Byron R. White:

I am referring to the statute we are construing.