Afge Union Agreement Va

Ibidun Roberts: Well, you see, that`s the thing. We do not know who is pulling the strings. Right now, it`s the same lawyer under the Trump administration. He`s a career employee, so he wouldn`t change. Political appointees would change. But it seems that they are still using people who really like what was going on during the Trump administration and who want to get there, who want to continue now. So we spoke to the VA`s lawyer about this case. We talked to their negotiating team because they come to the table very similar to the Trump administration. They are simply not willing to engage in what they are legally required to do. You will not be willing to negotiate in good faith or enforce the arbitrator`s award.

That`s what they did under the Trump administration, they came to the table and then negotiated illegally. That is what we have in front of us. Now they have no interest in correcting the negotiation failure in the past. And indeed, they want to preserve their illegal implementation of the Liability Act, instead of us going back and talking as if it had not been implemented. What they have done is try to sign the guidelines that they developed in 2017, which is in direct contradiction to the arbitrators` award, which means that we have to fix everything that resulted from their illegal implementation. As you know, federal employees have the option of contacting the MSPB or an adjudicator if they are fired, demoted or suspended for more than 14 days. So I like to do that. We had several employees turn to the MSPB and turned to an arbitrator. And that arbitrator said you have to agree on what you`re going to do with the employees who appealed.

We made suggestions to the VA on what to do with these employees. The VA rejected our proposal and did not contain its own. So they turned their noses to the arbitrator who asked us to make an agreement for the employees who appealed, and they simply refuse to do so. Ibidun Roberts: Well, first of all, we meet virtually. So we are as reasonable as possible with the VA, which wants to meet virtually. We`ve done it, we`ve exhausted it, we expect to meet in person soon. The other part is that the VA lawyers are not in the room. So while we believe they are advising the bargaining team, they are not really sitting at the table. So when some of these conversations arise, the VA doesn`t have an answer. In fact, they once told us that they had to go back to VA`s lawyer to find out what to do. So if they don`t even have the right people at the table to move us forward, they are already not negotiating in good faith, we need to have the right people at the table to reach an agreement, and they have not done so. They don`t whistle Dixie, but they are not able to respond.

Tom Temin: And by the way, how many VA employees are covered by that would be a deal. Ibidun Roberts: According to the agreement, it would be all the employees in the collective bargaining unit goes, a little over 100. And I think 60,000 employees are covered by collective agreements. For the employees against whom they have already acted, there are about 5000. So some of them are no longer employees at this point. But for the rest of the bargaining unit, there are well over 100,000 bargaining unit employees who would be affected by these negotiations. Tom Temin: We`re talking to Ibidun Roberts, she`s a lawyer who represents the National VA Council of the American Federation of Government Employees. And back to the negotiation sessions. What is going on? I mean, you`re sitting across the street from a table in a VA lawyers` room. And the union says, let`s talk about this, this and the other. What is the other party doing? Are they whistling Dixie? Do they play cards? I mean, how do they react when you tell them these things? Ibidun Roberts: That`s right.

They don`t use it. Part of what we got in the price was that they had to stop using it until they negotiated with us. So you might think it would be in the VA`s interest to do this quickly. But for some reason, and not for any reason, they have had a number of setbacks with this law, including some recent court rulings. I think what they are trying to do is get benefits from the union instead of having to correct what they did before. Ibidun Roberts: Of course. This has been happening since 2017, when the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented the Accountability Act. And many of you will remember that President Trump touted this law at the time and what it would do for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The problem was that the VA had not negotiated with the union on how it would implement this law. So we had to file a national complaint, we won this case, it had to go to the FLRA, the Federal Labour Relations Authority, to basically tell the VA that you had a legal obligation to negotiate with the union.

And they didn`t. They asked the FLRA to reconsider this decision. The FLRA said the same thing, they have to negotiate with the union, you were not excused for that. So we went back to the referee, and he brought relief for the VA`s failure to negotiate. So it was March 2021. It therefore took from 2017 to March 2021 for an arbitrator to find a decision on this issue. And he solved it by ordering the VA to actively negotiate backwards with the union. So this means that we have to negotiate as if they had not illegally failed to negotiate, and then apply them until 2017. And then he also expressed quite a relief. Whatever agreement we reach, not only must it be applied retroactively to 2017, but every employee who has been injured must be healed.

And that`s how we talk about the Accountability Act. These included abduction, suspensions of more than 15 days and decommissioning. The VA used it enthusiastically. So to date, we have about 5,000 people who have been affected by VA, which has implemented this law without negotiations. So I told you it was already in March, when the arbitrator ordered retroactive hearings. We are six months later and have been forced to ask the Federal Labour Relations Authority for enforcement and ask them to enforce the arbitrator`s award and bring the VA into compliance. As you said at the beginning, we thought this would only be the illegal behavior of the rogue government. But what we are finding is that this government is very willing to accept this illegal behavior and to possess and prosecute it itself. Want to stay up to date with the latest news and federal information from all your devices? Download the revamped Federal News Network app Ibidun Roberts: I say it`s huge. And the sooner we start, the sooner we can finish.

Unfortunately, VA does not follow the same approach. They try to delay and ultimately avoid their illegal behavior. The best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to daily Federal Drive audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne. Tom Temin: And the interesting twist here is that the FLRA itself has a new composition under the Biden administration than under the Trump administration. So you`d probably expect, I think, a slightly more favorable responsiveness here. Tom Temin: And have you talked to anyone from VA about it? Even if they tell you they won`t, or if they take the time to do it. I think my question is: Are these the same people you would have negotiated with under the Biden administration who were not negotiated under the Trump administration? Tom Temin: And what is the date of the last filing with the court to try to get the arbitrator`s claim enforced? Tom Temin: Now he`s just waiting to see what the court does with the FLRA and the arbitrator. Ibidun Roberts represents the National VA Council of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Thank you for this update. Tom Temin: And this back and forth has been going on for some time, give us the latest developments. Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that AFGE had sued the Department of Veterans Affairs. In this case, no new lawsuits were filed. Instead, the AFGE filed a charge of unfair labour practices. Tom Temin has hosted the Federal Drive and has been providing information on federal technology and management issues for over 30 years. Ibidun Roberts: With the FLRA that we submitted, it must have been about two weeks ago. .