A long-delayed transfer of Department of Defense health care workers to the newly created Defense Health Agency is kicking into high gear – and AFGE locals need to act now to ensure the continued representation of our members.
Up until recently, DHA has encompassed a few thousand civilian health care workers at military hospitals in the D.C. metro region. But once this transfer is completed later this year, DHA will be home to about 65,000 civilian employees working on medical and research matters across the Navy, Army, and Air Force.
The transfer was mandated by Congress in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, but implementation was delayed due to resistance by the services and the global pandemic. An accelerated timeline recently shared by DoD has the transfer occurring in three phases, or sets, between June and September.
Local action needed
Within AFGE, there are approximately 18,000 bargaining unit employees in the Army transferring to DHA, about 4,800 covered workers in the Air Force, and 4,700 bargaining unit employees in the Navy. Employees represented by other unions, or no union at all, make up the rest of the employees transferring to DHA.
Bargaining over implementation of the transfer must occur at the level of recognition for each unit that has employees transferring to DHA. Therefore, it’s critical that AFGE identify every unit that includes medical employees who we know or believe will transfer.
To determine if your local currently represents employees who will be transferring to DHA, you should review the list of military health markets by location. There are 20 large health care markets that report directly to DHA, and dozens of small market or stand-alone organizations.
Once you have identified the employees you represent by facility and type of occupation (nurses, professional, non-pro, etc.), please send that information to [email protected]. Please also send any notice the local may have received regarding transfer of employees to DHA.
In guidance issued to locals in February, DoD indicated that employees identified as performing a “readiness” function would not be transferring to DHA. This presents a host of issues, including questions of how this designation is made and how employees performing similar jobs at the same locations for different agencies will be managed.
AFGE has drafted a letter that locals can send to their HR departments requesting details on employees who have been declared “readiness” and those employees who are being transferred to DHA. Click here for the guidance and draft letter.
To maintain recognition, petitions must be filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority. AFGE’s General Counsel’s Office will coordinate this effort and be contacting locals regarding petitions closer to the filing dates.
“This is a gigantic opportunity for the growth of AFGE and DEFCON,” said AFGE Deputy General Counsel Cathie McQuiston who’s the point person for making sure all the FLRA petitions are filed in a timely manner to make sure we continue representation of employees.
Click here for additional information and to contact AFGE directly.