We had never heard of it either, but it is proof of the value of creative local leader input for solving national union problems. The problem was in Coburn Gore, Maine, which is right near the towns of Jackman, St.Aurlelie, St. Juste, St. Pamphile, and St. Zacharie. Each is a very remote outpost of the Homeland Security (DHS) effort to keep the nation safe from unwanted visitors and goods coming across the Canadian border. Given the need to put Customs and Border Patrol Officers there around the clock seven days a week, the local leaders of the union chapter, who we know as a very talented and creative bunch, proposed a Compressed Work Schedule that might be useful a lot of places in their own agency as well as outside. Here is how it works.

Employees would work 12 hours a day for six days during the pay period and 8 hours for one day to hit the 80 hour total. In other words, if two employees were willing to work that arrangement they would cover 160 hours of the 168 hours of a single 24/7 slot. That would leave the employees seven days each pay period of either off-time, time to fill in for colleagues on leave, or time to deal with any surge of traffic at one of the ports.

When the local union leaders proposed the novel schedule in local mid-term negotiations, the agency refused to negotiate over it claiming that it would create an “adverse impact.” That brought the FSIP into the dispute to rule on whether it would or not create such an impact that it was non-negotiable. They agency through a big bundle of hypothetical data at the union to make its case, but the union pushed back by showing what would have happened over the actual staffing during recent weeks in Coburn Gore. We will make a long story short because if you are interested in proposing a similar CWS you can read the FSIP decision details in NTEU, Chapter 141, Maine, 15 FSIP 79 (12/15/15). The union beat back the agency’s case and got an order that the agency must now negotiate over actually installing the 12-6/8 schedule. Congrats to the local union negotiators for a break-through idea and we will keep our fingers crossed that they get it implemented. It sounds perfect for staffing offices in very remote parts of the country or other 24/7 operations such as prisons require.

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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