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 current collective agreement between AFGE and the VA has been in place since 2011 and the union and the agency must now begin negotiations on the proposed new contract. “It`s time to reset Va`s approach to labour management relationships. The reluctance to challenge the status quo has led to the current agreement, which has many benefits that favour the union, not the veterans we are supposed to serve,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the press release. 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. The Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a new collective agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees on May 2, one that agency officials say will improve medical care, customer service and employee responsibility. However, union officials say the proposed agreement deprives us of important safeguards offered under the current agreement, which covers about 250,000 Agency workers. However, according to AFGE, the proposal removes a total or part of 42 articles in areas such as staff training, occupational health and safety, and protection from retaliation against whistleblowers. Official time is used by union representatives while they work in their federal jobs on the watch, such as supporting other workers in claims procedures or preparing negotiations with the Agency.
Learn how to take your business, management and employees as far as possible. According to the official schedules of 2016 – last published by the Office of Human Resources Management – the VA`s use of official time is approximately 3.53 hours per rate unit employee per year. Under the new proposal, and assuming the same number of employees in the collective agreements unit, union representatives would have about two minutes of official time per employee per year, which the agency said would direct more than $48 million a year to other services. Under the Trump administration, the VA has been aggressive in trying to reduce the official time and decided in November 2018 that some of the authority`s medical staff should not use that time. This rule was brought to court by AFGE shortly after its introduction. In May 2018, President Donald Trump issued three executive orders that changed the collective treatment and bargaining of federal employees, implying that union representatives spend at least 75% of their time on acting rather than on official time. “Given the challenge facing the VA`s thousands of vacant jobs, these proposals could bring more than one million hours of work per year to our workforce, a critical influx of resources that would make almost an immediate difference to veterans and the employees who care for them. These proposals make it clear that service to Veterans must take precedence in everything we do, and I look forward to working with AFGE to ensure that we achieve this goal. “As a veteran myself, I am sick of how little respect this administration shows to the workers who serve our Veterans day in and day out,” Said Phil Glover, AFGE District 3`s national vice president, in a press release.