“The new contract reflects the agency`s public service priority and will take effect on October 27,” a SSA spokeswoman said in a statement to the Federal News Network. “The Agency thanks both AFGE`s negotiating teams and Social Security for the months of effort they have made and for the success they have achieved in reaching the new agreement.” The new agreement gives a bank 125,000 hours of official time – half the official time afGE bank representatives had under the previous contract, but 75,000 hours more than what gave the deadlock in its recent decision. However, union officials say the proposed agreement deprives us of important safeguards offered under the current agreement, which covers about 250,000 Agency workers. After more than a year of tense negotiations, the Social Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees have finally agreed on a new six-year contract. 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. The new collective agreement, signed by SSA management and AFGE representatives late last week, resolves months of disagreement between the two parties and offers both a few days of stability before the lifting of the injunction on the President`s executive orders in May 2018. “The commitment and commitment of all those involved in these difficult negotiations was the reason an agreement was reached,” Richard Giacolone, head of the agency and president-elect for the position of director of the FMCS, said in a statement on Monday. “This resolution is proof of the power of good faith negotiations, where both sides are ready to come to the negotiating table, put aside their differences and work towards a mutual agreement that respects the interests of both sides. I commend the leaders of the SSA and AFGE for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in a spirit of constructive engagement. The FMCS congratulated the agency and the union on the agreement between the two parties. 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. 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. In addition, the collective agreement allows the union to file complaints about disputes related to an employee`s performance assessment or other matters – another activity that would have prevented the president from making personnel decisions.
“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 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. The agreement allows 20 union representatives to use no more than 840 hours of official time per year, meaning that these workers spend about 40% of their time on union activities and the remaining 60% can perform the tasks for which they were initially recruited. In the end, the union was faced with a decision: drop all ongoing litigation regarding the SSA`s bargaining contract, which included two lawsuits and nine complaints, and negotiate with the Agency – or have the panel resolve the deadlock on the remaining articles of the existing AFGE contract.