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Workforce

FLRA extends delay on SSA judges' contract

In a decision issued May 21, the Federal Labor Relations Authority delayed the implementation of a new contract between the Social Security Administration and the Association of Administrative Law Judges to allow a lawsuit to proceed.

In April, the AALJ, which represents 1,200 judges at the SSA, filed a lawsuit in D.C. District Court challenging the constitutionality of the decisions of the Federal Service Impasses Panel, a subcomponent of the FLRA.

The union is arguing that the 10 panel members were named without Senate approval, in violation of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

SSA had previously pledged to wait at least until the end of May before implementing the new contract and indicated it could delay further if the case warranted it.

The FLRA has extended that delay with the move, until the court in the case rules on pending motions. The lawsuit, FLRA said in its decision, presents an "unusual circumstance" that "did not exist when we considered, and denied, the Union's motion on March 31, 2020."

Initially, the FLRA denied the union's request to block the panel's decision on March 31, because the decision did not fall within a set of specific circumstances in which the FLRA can intervene and reverse a decision from the FSIP.

FLRA Chairwoman Colleen Kiko Duffy and member James T. Abbott affirmed the May 21 decision and member Ernest DuBester dissented.

"Our decision today grants relief that was not specifically requested by the union in its motion for stay based on reasons that were never argued by the union in support of its motion," DuBester wrote.

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