BARGAINING OVER KITCHEN FACILITIES
The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) posted a recent decision that should be copied into whatever file the union’s negotiators keep to prepare for the next round of bargaining. In the Matter of Harry John Halverson, the Dept. of Agriculture sent an employee on the road and reduced his per diem 55% because his long-term hotel room had kitchen facilities.
The employee appealed the reduction to CBCA pointing out that he had to buy pots, seasonings and condiments, but was denied. CBCA said that those costs were already covered in his reduced per diem. The CBCA agreed with Agriculture that regulations permits and agency to reduce per diem “Under the following circumstances: (a) When your agency can determine in advance that lodging and/or meal costs will be lower than the per diem rate; and (b) The lowest authorized per diem rate must be stated in your travel authorization in advance of your travel.”
That may be something the Federal Travel Regs permit, but a union can go to the bargaining table to negotiate over whether it will be reduced and if so by what percentage. (See NTEU, 64 FLRA 777 (2009) )
So, if you have unit members who can be sent on long-term travel, check your contract to make sure that they are not forced into a situation like Mr. Halverson.