AFGE’s council representing employees at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled a complaint issued by the Federal Labor Relations Authority against the EEOC for violating federal labor law by failing to complete negotiations with the union over changes to working conditions.
AFGE Council 216 filed an unfair labor practice charge against the agency in May after EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows ordered employees who have been working remotely with great success since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to return to physical offices without first completing a reentry agreement with the union, which is a violation of the Federal Service Labor-Relations Management Statute.
In July, the FLRA issued a complaint against the agency validating the union’s charge that the agency had violated the law by failing to negotiate in good faith with the union before ordering employees back to offices in May.
On Nov. 22, the agency and Council 216 signed off on a comprehensive memorandum of understanding that ensures office safety, increases workplace flexibilities, sets terms for safely providing in-person services to the public, and settles the FLRA complaint.
“While this should have happened in May, we are very pleased to have reached an agreement with the agency that will finally lock down health and safety measures for our worksites and for receiving the public, as well as improve flexibilities while we negotiate terms for a permanent telework program,” AFGE Council 216 President Rachel Shonfield said. “The settlement also includes a memorandum of assurance that the agency will abide by the federal labor relations statute and our collective bargaining agreement going forward.”
Under the agreement, employees will report to physical offices for three days per biweekly pay period for the first two months of 2023 and increase to four days per pay period starting in March, while the agency and union finalize terms for a permanent telework program. The agreement also extends through at least May 1 of next year a Maxiflex program that offers broader start and stop times for employees and commits the agency to establishing a remote work plan that will be bargained with the union.
The agency also agreed to complete joint health and safety inspections of all worksites and fix problems noted in the inspections within agreed-upon timeframes.
“AFGE members at EEOC never stopped working for the American people throughout the pandemic – and never will,” Shonfield said. “Our union-negotiated agreement makes sure employees can continue delivering critical services to the American public both in-person and remotely.”