AFGE’s Council 216 representing employees at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint against the EEOC for forcing employees to return to the physical worksite without allowing the union to ensure safety measures for the workforce.
The agency on May 5 notified employees to return to their physical worksites May 16 without completing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and negotiating with the union. The agency bypassed the union and directly notified employees of changes to work conditions, unilaterally imposing reentry.
“By its actions, the agency is interfering with, restraining, and coercing the exclusive representative in its ability to represent EEOC bargaining unit. An agency is required to avoid implementing changes while the negotiation process proceeds to final resolution,” the council said in the ULP complaint, which was filed on May 6.
“The union rejects the possibility of post-implementation bargaining. The union requests the agency cease and desist the unilateral implementation of their reentry plan,” the council added. “The status quo must be maintained and bargain unit employees working conditions, including 100% telework should not change until the parties have reached agreement or bargaining obligations have been met per the statute.”
“The union is completely opposed to reentry bargaining taking place after reentry occurs,” said Council 216 President Rachel Shonfield. “This action by the agency is already causing chaos by upending the safe and orderly processes that the union was in the midst of bargaining when the agency instead short-circuited negotiations. EEOC’s rogue conduct is contrary to the administration’s directions to bargain reentry and its commitment to collective bargaining.”
Here are the safety measures the union’s trying to bargain:
- Joint safety and readiness walk-throughs with the union
- A phased reentry depending on COVID community levels
- Orderly and neutral processes for selection of schedules and offices
- Contactless intake
- Mediator and administrative judge safety and discretion over virtual options
- Expanded flexibilities for reentry that are safe and recognize innovations learned during COVID, such as Maxiflex, remote work, and expanded telework.
“The union does not believe safety and workplace flexibilities should expire arbitrarily at the end of 2022,” Shonfield added.