New Master Agreement Welcomes Era of Collaboration

After nearly 20 years, it finally happened. AFGE Local 2272 recently signed a new contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, ushering in a new era of collaboration and a new kind of relationship between management and the union.

Prior to the negotiations of the contract, the last of which was signed in 1996, to say things were rocky was an understatement. Between 1997 and 2006, the union was run by U.S. Marshals deputies appointed by management officials. The agency had simply refused to acknowledge the existence of the union and its members.

Even though then local president spent years trying to get the agency to negotiate a new master agreement, the agency spent years dragging the process out. The union filed and won an Unfair Labor Practice complaint, which forced the agency to come to the negotiation table.

“Responsibility and respect are words everyone at the table knew well, but are also words that appeared to define a different era in the U.S. Marshals’ relationship with its employees. Words to which it seems through the last year of bargaining, the agency has embraced more than ever before,” said AFGE Labor Relations Specialist Derek Willingham who served as Chief Negotiator of the new contract.  “Bargaining unit employees have a vital role in the overall success of the US Marshals operations.”

The new contract covers about 1,000, most of whom are criminal investigators.

Here are a few highlights of the new contract:

  • The contract expands the voluntary relocation program (OPREF) to cover most job classifications such as administrative personnel, pilots, Detention Enforcement Officers (DEOs), Aviation Enforcement Officers. OPREF was originally designed for deputy Marshals to transfer to other districts throughout the country.
  • Seniority was more defined properly to weed out the grey areas which the agency used to show favoritism.
  • The contract promotes merit promotion. "Already Operational" employees could choose where they would like to be stationed within the agency.  This also promotes internal hiring.
  • The discipline article was greatly improved to limit management from arbitrarily choosing whom or why they wanted to discipline bargaining unit employees.
  • The contract now sheds light on working conditions of DEOs whose pay at the GS-7 pay structure makes them one of the lowest paid federal law enforcement officers in the country. DEOs also have very little promotion potential.
  • The union is recognized and to be respected.
  • The outdated, obscured, forgotten contract has been modernized.

“Our bargaining team stood strong and ensured that the agency recognized the bargaining units employees’ vital role,” Willingham added. “Every day, we came to the table in the spirit of good faith to reclaim the member’s rightful part of that great success.”

Local 2272 is a national local representing all Marshals Service bargaining unit members.

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