The Federal Labor Relations Authority voted to close its regional offices in Boston and Dallas, the FLRA said in a congressional budget justification released late Feb. 13.
This will leave five regional offices, in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, the agency said.
The closing of the offices could affect the FLRA’s operations, one observer said.
“The regional offices of the FLRA serve as gateways to the agency and are its primary resource points for federal agencies and unions,” Todd Dickey, a visiting scholar at George Washington University’s School of Business who researches federal labor relations and HR issues, told Bloomberg Law Feb. 14.
“Over the years, regional staff accumulate a good deal of knowledge regarding the parties in their regions. With expanded regional office boundaries, a challenge for the Authority moving forward will be maintaining a high level of service at the regional level and not losing critical institutional memory,” Dickey said in an email.
Employees to Be Offered Jobs Elsewhere
The closing of the two offices will directly affect 16 employees—nine in Boston and seven in Dallas—and result in five positions being abolished, the FLRA said. All directly affected employees will be offered reassignments within the agency, either to another regional office or to FLRA headquarters, it said.
“Based on 5-year averages, Boston and Dallas currently have the lowest case intake,” the FLRA said. “Rent for the Boston Regional Office is significantly higher per square foot than all of the FLRA’s other Regional Offices, and, for this reason, the FLRA has previously contemplated closing this office in past years.”
An FLRA spokeswoman declined to comment.
Early Retirement Available
The FLRA will be offering early retirement to eligible employees to “maximize relocation opportunities for the directly affected employees,” the agency said.
“That is, vacancies that arise from VERA may create additional slots for Boston and Dallas employees to land,” the FLRA said. VERA stands for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority.
The federal government’s early retirement program allows employees with at least 25 years of service and those with 20 or more years of service who are at least age 50 to retire early. The normal retirement age for employees hired under the old Civil Service Retirement System is age 55 with 30 years of service. The retirement age for workers hired under the Federal Employees Retirement System, which covers those hired after 1983, varies based on when the employees were hired.
The FLRA administers the labor-management relations program for about 2.1 million non-postal federal employees worldwide. Its Office of the General Counsel and the OGC’s regional offices act as the independent investigative and prosecutorial component of the FLRA.