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? VA and AFGE have already signed their existing collective agreement in 2011 and have been in force ever since. More than a year ago, the ministry announced its first intention to resume negotiations. According to a VA press release, the new collective agreement would reduce the official use of time in the agency from about 1 million hours per year to 10,000 hours of official time, a 99 percent reduction. The proposals would also eliminate 28 items from AFGE`s existing collective agreement with LA VA, meaning the union cannot negotiate a large number of issues. Articles on telework, relocations, temporary reallocations, transport and other topics have been largely deleted and optimized. Executive Order (EO) 13836, Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches to Federal Sector Collective Bargaining, signed by the President on May 25, 2018, requires agencies to submit any long-term collective agreement (CBA) and its expiry date within 30 days of the CBA`s entry into force. EO 13836 also requires OPM to make these CBAs available to the public on the internet. This promotes transparency by allowing the public to consult the types of agreements between federal agencies and industry unions. Agencies are also required to submit arbitration awards to OPM within 10 business days of receipt. OPM has issued a memorandum on the publication of the CBA database, which contains guidelines on agency requirements for CBAs and arbitration awards. Similar differences of opinion exist in the administration of social security.
Another unusual aspect of the proposed contract is its duration. Under the conditions set by the department, the collective agreement would be in force for ten years. And it removes the re-opening clause from the previous agreement, which is a standard part of an employment services contract that allows the parties to reopen to the renegotiation of the parts of an agreement before its expiry date. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced publicly Thursday that management had released its first proposal to negotiate a new collective agreement with the nation`s largest federal workers` union, underscoring efforts to severely limit the use of official time. « The standard is three years because it is the maximum time during which a collective agreement can remain in force and is not challenged by another union, » Tobias said. « At the end of three years, another union could petition and call for an election. It would be irresponsible for a union to agree to a ten-year term or for management to insist on a ten-year term. The new agreement would also strengthen front-line superiors, streamline the recruitment and training process, and ensure that the agreement does not encroach on agency modernization laws, according to the VA press release. However, union officials say the proposed agreement deprives us of important safeguards offered under the current agreement, which covers about 250,000 Agency workers.