The AFGE filed with the FSIP on June 3, arguing that the Department of Veteran Affairs had proposed significant changes to its collective agreement with the union, and then refused to negotiate in good faith with AFGE representatives proposals without orders substantially similar to those of the current agreement. Tom Temin: Normally, one of the questions is how long the agreement will remain in force. Is this something you don`t agree on? The panel removed several items from the agreement and reduced others, said Ibidun Roberts, who represents the NOV. 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. Tom Temin: And the Trump administration`s executive orders cover a lot of territory, and what can you reasonably expect, would you like to see in an agreement on the official time and all the other provisions? But a va spokesman told the Federal Times that the changes they want to implement are aimed at improving care: “Whether by condemning the MISSION Act or working to repeal the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, afGE has consistently fought for the status quo and opposed making VA work better for veterans and their families. It is not surprising that AFGE has taken the same approach by refusing to accept reasonable improvements to its collective agreement. Va`s collective bargaining proposals aim to put Veterans first and foremost what we do and we look forward to working with AFGE to achieve this goal. Tom Temin: Give us an idea of the whole treaty in terms of the timing and expiration of the existing agreement. Ibidun Roberts: Well, the current agreement is what we call roll over, once the VA has opened it, our language in the treaty says that the provisions will continue until we reach a new agreement.
So that`s where we are with the current agreement, it continues until we come to a new one. So we negotiated with the VA for six months, and the VA requested the services of the Federal Service Impasses Panel, the authority of the federal government, to break the deadlocks. Since we government employees cannot strike, someone has to break the deadlock, and that is what this agency is doing. VA asked for its support. They asked us to defend our proposals in an opinion that was expected on 3 June. And then we had the opportunity to refute each other`s arguments, and it was just July 5. So right now, the panel has all the controversy. – so we are waiting for a decision from them.
Ibidun Roberts: That`s right. This is the framework contract, the inhabitants can negotiate certain provisions on the spot. But it is for the general concepts on which we agree at the national level. 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. Ibidun Roberts: Oh yes. The VA is therefore aiming for a ten-year contract. We are looking for the traditional three-year contract. There are many reasons for this. One of them is that other unions can challenge our certification after three years, but there are also changes. And if these changes happen, we want to be able to open up the agreements and incorporate those changes. .