VA management and AFGE began negotiations in May 2019 for a new collective agreement, but the Agency twice declared a deadlock in October and December of that year. On December 19, 2019, the VA asked the Federal Services Impasse Panel to intervene, a situation that has been going on ever since. In AFGE`s opinion, the union contradicted VA`s proposal to remove entire sections of the new collective agreement, which official data say could lead to ongoing collective disputes and called many of the ministry`s proposals “contrary to the law.” The Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP), made up of 10 presidents appointed to resolve deadlocks in agency union negotiations, significantly changed the agreement in its November 5 ruling, allegedly to bring the labor contract into compliance with several executive orders of the Trump administration, which brings in federal staff. Tom Temin: Normally, one of the questions is how long the agreement will be in place. Is that something you don`t agree with? Ibidun Roberts: That`s right. It is the master contract, the locals get certain arrangements to negotiate on the ground. But it is for the general concepts on which we agree at the national level. The body removed several articles from the agreement and removed others, said Ibidun Roberts, who represents NVAC. Tom Temin: And the executive orders of the Trump administration cover a lot of territories, and what can we reasonably expect from an answer, would you want to see in an agreement in terms of official time and all the other provisions? Ibidun Roberts: So what we`re looking for in the treaty is really the procedures, right? You can`t negotiate the law itself. Congress has deemed this law appropriate, so we can only carry out the procedure. For example, the law reduced the time it takes employees to take action to 15 days. Therefore, as soon as the VA submits a deportation proposal to a staff member, it has seven days to respond to this proposal.
And then, within a fortnight, eight days after its response, the VA must make a decision. This really reduces the time that the union can look for evidence to help and actually give the answer to that employee. To meet with the employee, gather evidence and formulate a response. It`s really too insensible. And if you add that the union is not in the facility now, I`m sure we`ll get there, it makes it a lot harder to meet an employee to meet a move, a big upheaval in their lives. That is what we want to see in the agreement. We want the procedures to allow workers to meet with the union, give them time to do so and allow the employee to participate when that meeting is scheduled for response, instead of management setting their own appointment, which could be the next day or two days later, if the employee may not have had the opportunity to do so yet. to formulate his answer. So we want to have formal procedures in the agreement. NVAC submitted an application to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the parent authority of the FSIP, to stay the decision until the pending appeals concerning several articles of the agreement and the constitutionality of the appointment of FSIP members are clarified. “If the parties are not included in the [master] collective agreement, they are in an indeterminate bargaining state because there is a legal obligation of collective agreement for unresolved matters,” the union wrote.