The Judicial Union is one of several working groups that question the constitutionality of the appointment of members of the Federal Services Committee, which has resolved intractable disputes that arise during collective bargaining. It was difficult for both sides to agree on a negotiation process, particularly on the duration of the negotiations and on what they had to negotiate in practice. The new collective agreement, signed by SSA management and AFGE representatives late last week, resolves months of disagreement between the two parties and offers both a few days of stability before the lifting of the injunction on the President`s executive orders in May 2018. After more than a year of tense negotiations, the Social Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees have finally agreed on a new six-year contract. The agreement allows 20 union representatives to use no more than 840 hours of official time per year, meaning that these workers spend about 40% of their time on union activities and the remaining 60% can perform the tasks for which they were initially recruited. AFGE sued the administration for executive orders and won. On August 25, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge declared many executive orders illegal. SSA cancelled the terms of the executive orders it had already introduced and returned to the basic rules of negotiation, although damage was done. The Union returned to the negotiating table and asked the SSA to review its treaty proposals to reflect the court`s decision. When the SSA finally submitted revised proposals in September 2018, the SSA maintained its most monstrous proposals to significantly reduce representation time, create a representative workspace and remove workers` rights, to challenge unfair judgments, contracting decisions and unfair expulsions through appeal and arbitration. In response, the Union lodged a complaint concerning the Agency`s continued compliance with the invalid provisions of the executive orders.
In addition, the Agency proposed to deprive negotiated telework rights and to leave telework policy decisions entirely to management`s discretion. Despite an environment hostile to workers and trade unions, the Union nevertheless went to the negotiating table to guarantee the rights and protection of workers. In addition, the collective agreement allows the union to file complaints about disputes related to an employee`s performance assessment or other matters – another activity that would have prevented the president from making personnel decisions. “While the current FSIP has been particularly anti-union over the past two years, this decision confirms the fundamental standard that management cannot attempt to modify items that are negotiated properly and legally in a collective agreement, without specific evidence of why they need these amendments.” “Although the parties have been negotiating for a year, the Agency has not submitted any specific changes to the program they plan to make to the work unit of the tariff unit, which would affect eligibility for the telework program. While the Agency stated that they “may need flexibility to redirect further work,” the Agency did not propose any specific need to do so or any demonstration that the other work cannot be done during telework. Without details, the union did not have the opportunity to negotiate possible changes. In October and November, the EU and the Agency agreed on Articles 3 (workers` rights), 16 (training) and 31 (leave). It is important that the Union has retained the language in Article 3, Section 2.A, which obliges management to treat workers fairly and equitably in all aspects of personnel management, regardless of protected class status.