The Executive Order 11491 was an important pillar of the emerging concept of labour-management relations for the Federal employees. The foundations were laid with the issuance of Executive Order 10988 in 1962 by President Kennedy, which was followed by expansion of those rights in 1969, when the Executive Order 11491 was passed by President Nixon.
While Executive Order 10988 authorised the use of collective bargaining techniques through labour organisations, order 11491 was focused on establishment of a well-thought framework to ensure effective governance of labour-management relations pertaining to Federal Government. This order also laid down a list of unfair labour practices and permitted using binding arbitration of disputes subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.
The basic essence of labour-management relations in Federal service as per order 11491 is healthy representation of both parties, their regular meet and confer good faith regarding matters relating to working conditions as well as common personnel policies. This results in a collective bargaining agreement between the organisation and labour union. However, it must be noted that there are limits to bind this collective bargaining.
The Executive Order 11491 is considered important as it also led to the establishment of two entities: Federal Labour Relations Council, also known as the Council and the Federal Service Impasses Panel. It comprises of the Chairman, the Secretary of Labour, Civil Services Commission and some other official which can be appointed with reference to guidelines that are issued by the President on regular intervals. The responsibility of the Council is to decide upon major policy issues, oversee the entire operation, hear appeals made on unfair labour practices or representation claims which are made by the Assistant secretary of labour and decide on exemptions based on binding arbitration. The second entity is granted discretionary powers to assist parties in resolving disputes if they have reached an impasse and other voluntary arrangements have failed.