Ground rules are important during contract negotiations as they keep things running smoothly. Failing to follow the ground rules could be damaging to the violating party, as is the case at the Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, DC.
AFGE Local 228 and SBA were supposed to exchange proposals on Feb. 4 in accordance with the ground rules that both sides had agreed on. The agency, however, asked that the due date be extended to Feb. 6, which the local agreed to. The agency asked for additional extension of the due again to Feb. 13, and the local again agreed to it. They both agreed to submit their proposals by 5 p.m. that day, but the local didn’t receive the proposals until three hours after the deadline.
The local subsequently filed a grievance due to the agency’s untimely submission of its proposals and other administrative violations of the ground rules. To remedy the situation, the local asked that the parties only negotiate the articles and appendices the local submitted.
The agency’s deputy chief human capital officer agreed that the grievance had merit and granted the local’s request that both sides negotiate only the articles and appendices the local had submitted and that the agency would withdraw all of its proposals.
“Local 228 is used to the agency’s strictly enforcing deadlines against the union, and it’s good to know that the deadlines apply both ways and we are glad the agency acknowledged this in the agreement that we have,” Local President Nik Gustafsson said. “Local 228 thanks AFGE Field Services for their valuable assistance in negotiating our ground rules.”