National Treasury Employees Union

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NTEU
Nteulogo.png
Full name National Treasury Employees Union
Founded October 1939
Members 82,552 (2012 Report to U.S. Department of Labor)
Affiliation none
Key people Colleen M. Kelley, national president; Frank D. Ferris, national executive vice president
Office location Washington, D.C.
Country United States
Website www.nteu.org

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) is an independent labor union representing approximately 150,000 employees of 30 agencies of the United States government. The union specializes in representation of non-supervisory federal employees in every classification and pay level in civilian agencies.

History[edit]

In 1938, a group of employees working in Wisconsin as Internal Revenue Collectors formed the National Association of Employees of Collectors of the Internal Revenue (NAECIR) with the goal of securing civil service protection, fair salaries and improved working conditions. Convinced that attempts to secure these rights and benefits through existing organizations would be futile, employees in the Bureau’s Wisconsin District began to organize a group devoted exclusively to the interests of Internal Revenue employees. In October 1939, the first NAECIR Convention was held in Milwaukee to launch a permanent national organization.

When the agency was re-organized as the Internal Revenue Service in 1952, NAECIR broadened its scope to include all IRS workers, adopted a shorter name -- the National Association of Internal Revenue Employees (NAIRE) -- and refocused its objectives to attract new members. At this point, IRS management officials and supervisors made up much of NAIRE’s leadership and membership. While NAIRE attempted to function as a professional association, seeking to meet the specialized needs of IRS employees through congressional letter-writing campaigns, consultation with high-ranking IRS administrators, and social activities, due to management’s dominating influence it remained weak, possessing neither definite goals nor the strong organizational structure required to promote the interests of its members. But in the early 1960s, management’s influence in NAIRE was eliminated through the issuance of executive orders that banned supervisors and managers from participation in NAIRE’s activities.

In 1966, newly elected national president Vincent L. Connery and his supporters defeated a proposed merger into the larger American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). They launched organizing campaigns, adopted a new constitution, and began transformation from a social club into an active labor union. NAIRE received its charter as a federal employee union in 1967. In 1973, the union expanded again to include members throughout the Treasury Department and the organization's name was updated to the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU); and the new NTEU began its drive to gain representation of the 13,000 U.S. Customs Service employees who were represented by either the National Customs Service Association (NCSA) or AFGE (which was raiding NCSA units). In 1975, with a guarantee to NCSA of participation in governing NTEU, a merger took place, representing the first group of non-IRS employees to be brought into NTEU. In 1977 it began to organize employees in other federal agencies; in 1978, employees of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) became the first members outside the Treasury Department.

In August 1983, Connery retired as NTEU’s national president and Robert M. Tobias, national executive vice president and general counsel, succeeded him. In August 1999, Colleen M. Kelley was first elected national president.

Legal Action[edit]

The NTEU has been famous for aggressive use of the courts to supplement their statutorily-limited powers to bargain and restraints on traditional labor tactics such as strikes and boycotts. In 1972, the union sued President Richard M. Nixon, challenging his decision to bypass Congress and postpone salary increases for all federal workers covered by the General Schedule. This lawsuit, NTEU v. Nixon, resulted in an unprecedented victory that required the government to pay over $533 million in back pay to federal employees. In another lawsuit, Boyce and Dixon v. United States, the removal of two IRS service center employees was reversed, establishing for the first time the principles that an agency did not have total discretion in penalizing employees and that mitigating circumstances could render an agency-ordered removal an abuse of discretion. Shortly thereafter, in NTEU v. Fasser, the union won the right for federal employees to engage in informational picketing, an action previously deemed banned by federal law. During the Reagan and first Bush administrations, NTEU fought the onslaught against federal employees aggressively in numerous court battles. It took the issue of the constitutionality of random drug testing of Customs inspectors all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in NTEU v. Von Raab and it successfully fought anti-worker initiatives proposed by the head of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

On May 18, 2007 the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) certified NTEU as the sole representative of some 21,000 bargaining unit employees in the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

At the time of its formation in the Department of Homeland Security, CBP was made up of employees from three legacy agencies—the U.S. Customs Service, where NTEU had long been the representative; the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Agriculture Department. In addition to these employees, CBP new hires since that time who did not have the benefit of a union presence will now be represented by NTEU.

The three-member FLRA, which oversees federal sector labor relations, rejected the final appeal of a losing union in a representation election last year covering the CBP workforce. NTEU won that election by more than a two-to-one margin—7,349 to 3,426.

Jurisdiction[edit]

Local NTEU chapters operate in every state, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. NTEU currently represents some or all non-supervisory employees in:

To varying extents, it competes for members with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), as well as other groups.

External links[edit]