NASA v. FLRA, 527 U.S. 229, 7 (1999)

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Cite as: 527 U. S. 229 (1999)

Opinion of the Court

Despite the text of the statute and the Authority's views, NASA and NASA-OIG advance three reasons for their narrow reading. First, the language at issue is contained in a larger section addressing rights and duties related to collective bargaining; indeed, 5 U. S. C. 7114 is entitled "Representation rights and duties." Thus, other subsections define the union's right to exclusive representation of employees in the bargaining unit, 7114(a)(1); its right to participate in grievance proceedings, 7114(a)(2)(A); and its right and duty to engage in good-faith collective bargaining with the agency, 7114(a)(4), (b). That context helps explain why the right granted in 7114(a)(2)(B) is limited to situations in which the employee "reasonably believes that the examination may result in disciplinary action"—a condition restricting the right to union presence or participation in investigatory examinations that do not threaten the witness' employment. We find nothing in this context, however, suggesting that an examination that obviously presents the risk of employee discipline is nevertheless outside the coverage of the section because it is conducted by an investigator housed in one office of NASA rather than another. On this point, NASA's internal organization is irrelevant.

Second, the phrase "representative of the agency" is used in two other places in the FSLMRS where it may refer to representatives of agency management acting in their capacity as actual or prospective parties to a collective-bargaining agreement. One reference pertains to grievances, 7114(a)(2)(A), and the other to the bargaining process itself, 7103(a)(12) (defining "collective bargaining"). NASA and NASA-OIG submit that the phrase at issue should ordinarily retain the same meaning wherever used in the same statute, and we agree. But even accepting NASA's and NASA-OIG's characterization of 7114(a)(2)(A) and 7103(a)(12), the fact that some "representative[s] of the agency" may perform functions relating to grievances and bargaining does not mean that other personnel who conduct


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