If your union has not demanded to bargain over the impact of the pending sequestration, do not wait much longer.  The odds of it happening are so high that the union should put in its demand even if management has not provided specific notice, e.g., who get furloughed, for how long, etc..  Everyone has to decide what proposals to submit in their unit given the particular facts.  But here are a few proposal ideas that might be worth considering.  Let employees —

  • pick the days on which they will serve their furlough time, e.g., the day before or after a holiday.
  • serve their furlough times by working a shorter work day rather than taking complete days off,
  • swap furlough days,
  • serve furlough days for a colleague in addition to their own,
  • take many more furlough days than minimally required, especially if they can get substitute work for a short period,
  • out of any obligation to meet time deadlines that the furlough will make difficult to meet,
  • take some admin time prior to a furlough day to get his/her work in order so that the employee can walk away from it for a few days,
  • telework in order to reduce costs to compensate for the lost work time,
  • petition to avoid any furlough days if their income level is marginal, e.g., their current income is less than $5,000. above the current federal poverty level for their family,
  • change their pension and other deductions,
  • borrow from their pension investment funds, or
  • propose an alternative to furlough them that saves at least as much money as the furlough.

As for the union, it also needs a few things, such as—

  • data on who is furloughed for how many days in order to ensure everyone suffers equally, absent a few exceptions,
  • notification of any appeals filed by individual employees to MSPB, EEOC, FLRA or other bodies,
  • notice of any resignations, and
  • an opportunity to submit and oral and/or written reply for any employees who the agency proposes to furlough for more days than everyone else.

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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2 Responses to

  1. williams says:

    this link “WHEN NOT TO GRIEVE WIGI DENIALS ” is not working.

    • AdminUN says:

      Sorry about that and thanks for alerting us. We tried to fix it quick, but with no success. So, we have copied the artilce in this response below. hope it helps.

      In virtually every other situation, the rule of thumb is that the deadline for filing a grievance begins to run when the agency issues its written decision. But not when a WIGI is involved–and not knowing the WIGI rule cost one employee a lot of back pay.

      WIGI stands for Within-Grade Increase; some people call it an ALOC which stands for Acceptable Level of Competence determination; still other merely call it a step increase decision. According to all statistics, managers very rarely deny employees these salary increases that amount to about a 3% base pay increase. Consequently, it is not surprising that union reps know very little about the rules for challenging these decisions when the pay increase is denied.

      Often, the agency gives the employee advance warning that it proposes to deny his/her next increase. However, OPM regs only require that the employee be notified as soon as possible after the completion of a waiting period that the supervisor has decided to withhold it because of inadequate performance. Generally, that performance is below Fully Successful but not Unacceptable. Most agencies label that the Minimally Successful rating level.

      Management is required to put its decision to deny in writing, along with the reasons why the step has been withheld, give the notice to the employee, and offer the employee an opportunity to ask that a higher level manager “reconsider” the decision.

      Given that the notice is not a proposal or warning, but decision, most will be tempted to file a grievance rather than pursue the “reconsideration” process. After all, how much can we expect from one level of management reviews the decision of a subordinate level of management? Don’t give in to that temptation because the employee is required to pursue reconsideration and get a decision from that second level management before the employee can grieve and arbitrate the denial.

      One SSA employee and her union rep learned this the hard way. That employee filed a grievance when her step increase was denied and the union took it to arbitration without ever requesting or participating in a reconsideration. The arbitration went well for the employee; the arbitrator ordered that she be given her increase retroactively with back pay and interest on that money.

      The agency responded by filing exceptions with FLRA and arguing that OPM regulations provide that an arbitrator does not have jurisdiction over a denied step increase until the reconsideration decision has been issued. It is only then that the union can start the grievance process. The Authority agreed and voided the arbitration award. (See AFGE, 35 FLRA 1167 (1990))

      In light of how rarely denials occur, the union might be wise to clearly state the rule in the negotiated agreement provisions dealing with step increases and/or grievance filing deadlines. Another option to keep in mind is skipping over the grievance process all together given that the employee already has two levels of decisions. Why waste time in a grievance if you can get management to agree that reconsideration denials go directly to arbitration?

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