Use of Federal Funds To Publicize Opposition to Collective Bargaining

B-194076: Published: May 29, 1979. Publicly Released: May 6, 1985.

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In response to a request, GAO examined the use of funds by the Director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a federally-owned multiprogram facility at Livermore, California, operated by the University of California under a contract with the Department of Energy (DOE). GAO reviewed two documents expressing the Director's opposition to collective bargaining for Laboratory employees, which were circulated among workers at the facility inresponse to a recent California statute guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining for state employees. Although the Livermore facility is owned by the United States, the University of California is a state instrumentality and therefore its employees are subject to the provisions of state law. DOE confirmed that federal funds were used to disseminate the Director's views, but contended that his conduct was permissible under federal statutes as well as the California law in question, which expressly authorizes managerial statements regarding employee representation. Both the state statute and the National Labor Relations Act forbid only threats of management reprisals or promisesof benefits contingent on representation decisions made by employees, and expressions of preference for one representative organization over others. GAO agreed that there was nothing improper in the Laboratory Director's statements regarding collective bargaining.

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