INTERESTING CONTRACT CLAUSES- AFGE & VA

All union negotiators should be aware of what is in other contracts, but that can be hard to do as more and more contracts exceed 200 pages.  So, from time-to-time our small army of FEDSMILL researchers will go through contracts to highlight the more interesting clauses.  We are starting with the AFGE & VA contract, which you can find in the Compare Contracts portion of the FEDSMILL menu bar.

With so many single parents and working couples, child care is often difficult.  These parties have given employees close to a right to annual leave for those emergencies.

Article 8 Child Care, Section 4A – Employee Needs

It is agreed that the responsible official will grant emergency annual leave requests and consider emergency requests for leave without pay brought about by unexpected changes in child care arrangements, contingent upon operational exigency.

 We have all seen office furniture, sometimes very good furniture, tossed out in the trash.  The union had a better idea for it.

Article 20 Telework, Section 4C.

Any time the Department gives up space or otherwise downsizes the office, any excess equipment or furniture may be made available to employees in this program, subject to the limitations of Paragraph A above. Agreements between the local union and the facility will address how the equipment will be assigned.

Few issues are more important to employees anywhere than promotions and most of them have witnessed management select a total stranger from outside the office, agency or even government because of an unstated preference for “new blood.” AFGE has given employees a chance to push back hard against that with this clause.

Article 23- Merit Promotion, Section 8C

However, in all cases, (a, b, and c above), first and full consideration shall be given to any best qualified candidates within the facility (or more narrow area).

Catholics elect their Pope by locking away their Cardinals to preserve absolute secrecy about how they arrived at their decision.  Federal sector promotion panel deliberations are often just as mysterious.  AFGE has succeeded in getting unit employees placed on the panels to boost fairness and openness.

Article 23-Merit Promotions, Section 10A.2 – Panel for Competitive Action

Subject to Paragraph C of Section 10, panels will be established for all competitive actions. . . .Panels for bargaining unit positions will include two bargaining unit employees chosen with the concurrence of the local union. Absent mutual agreement, the Department reserves the right to appoint panel members following discussions with the local union and informing the local union of the reasons for its decision.

AFGE has also obtained the right to have a union representative “audit” the promotion package once the selection is made.

Article 23, Merit Promotions, Section 16 – Local Union Review of Competitive Actions

The local union will be permitted to conduct audits of promotion packages for all bargaining unit positions when it has reason to believe a discrepancy exists or when requested to do so by an employee.

Agencies have been taking every opportunity available to dump free parking from their leases.  Frankly, we can’t blame them because reducing costs is what management should be doing.  But shifting the cost from the employer to the employee hurts lower-graded employees and those with child care responsibilities harder than everyone else.  So, the union bargained at least a freeze on transferring parking costs during the life of the contract.

Article 26, Parking and Transportation, Section 2

Where employees are not being charged for parking that is available at the time this Agreement becomes effective, no charge will be initiated for the duration of this Agreement except where required by law. The parties agree that secure, adequate, and accessible parking for employees helps better serve customer needs and should be a consideration in local arrangements.

This is one we have not seen anywhere else. The union has obligated management to meet with an employee or all of them whenever one of several significant events occurs.  Given our observation that the arrival of a new manager is generally a high-risk period for employees as he/she finds new favorites, subtly adjusts performance measures, and applies personal preferences, this seems to help minimize surprises.

Article 27- Employee Right and Privileges

Orientation sessions shall be held when there is a change in the work situation. Examples may include, but are not limited to:

1.            A change in the supervisor of record;

2.            When the employee is detailed;

3.            A change in the work unit’s goals, objectives, or work processes;

4.            A change in assignments; or

5.            When an employee returns from an extended absence.

 AFGE’ VA Council has put together a 26-page article that is the most detailed H&S article we have seen in any contract.  If you are looking for proposal ideas in that area, start with this contract.

Article 29- Health and Safety

Selection interviews can be an enormous source of anti-merit bias against one or more employees.  Take a look at our post entitled, “How To Grieve Promotion Interview Scores.” AFGE has imposed not just the fair and equitable benchmark for all interviews, but also bound management to ask the same questions of each candidate.  We think this will help.

Article 61, Title 38 Vacancy Announcements, Section 3 – Vacancy

A.            All employees will have a fair and equitable opportunity to compete for selection for a posted vacancy. All applicants will be asked the same questions during an interview.

B.            At the request of the employee, the Department will supply the employee with an explanation of why they were not selected for the position.

Our compliments to the AFGE VA Council on these provisions, along with our apologies if we missed some really good stuff.  If so, feel free to send in a blog comment using the box below if there is something else special that we should all note.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.

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