”Everything is connected. They want to infringe on the rights of veterans and they want to infringe on workers` rights. And all of this leads to more unfair care, more unfair decisions when it comes to benefits, and worse health care. ”Whether it was condemning the MISSION Act or working to repeal the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, AFGE fought consistently for the status quo and resisted attempts to make VA work better for veterans and their families,” he said in a statement to the Federal News Network. ”Now AFGE is taking the same approach by refusing to accept reasonable improvements to its collective agreement.” After nearly a year of controversial negotiations and disagreements, the Federal Service Impasses Panel has made a long-awaited decision in the ongoing collective bargaining dispute between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees. Collective bargaining between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees has stalled for more than a year, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has crippled parts of the country and increased workload and risks for health professionals, has only exacerbated differences between agency management and unions over better management of federal personnel. VA management and AFGE began negotiating a new collective agreement in May 2019, but the agency twice declared an impasse in October and December of the same year. On December 19, 2019, the VA asked the Federal Services Impasse Panel to intervene, a situation that has been going on ever since. The VA had argued that the VA Accountability Act took precedence over the contract that requires the use of improvement plans. It also argued that the arbitrator`s decision exceeded the arbitrator`s authority by involving all employees of the tariff unit and that it constituted an ”essential exception” that is not derived from the collective agreement. In its decision this week, the FRLA rejected these allegations. Nevertheless, lawmakers expressed concern that the ministry`s negotiating proposals restrict the labor protection that Congress itself first considered when it passed the Civil Service Reform Act and the Federal Service Labor Relations Act in 1978.
Va pleaded for the official time changes and said the union could afford the restrictions. According to the division, AFGE raised more than $60 million in 2019 by members of the bargaining unit. Following a complaint filed by AFGE, an independent arbitrator recently asked VA to remove from its website a list of disciplinary measures taken by the department against its employees. ”While executive orders were designed to hurt unions, and they do, I`m most concerned about how the favorites department wants to play with rewards, revoke telecommuting on a whim, refuse to leave because of grief, and make VA a miserable workplace. There is no predictability and you are subject to the settings of your superior. The VA can`t accomplish its mission if people don`t want to work here,” Alma Lee, president of the AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council, told the Federal Times.