AFGE Protects Several Workplace Rights in New AFGE-SSA Contract

Categories: The Insider

AFGE succeeded in protecting several workplace rights for employees at Social Security Administration (SSA) under a newly negotiated labor-management contract.

AFGE and SSA began contract negotiations last year, but as a result of Trump’s anti-worker executive orders, SSA eliminated most workplace rights, imposed anti-worker provisions, and took the case to a Trump appointed panel – the Federal Services Impasses Panel – which greenlighted most of the anti-worker provisions.

AFGE subsequently sued the impasses panel, arguing that the panel exceeded its authority when it imposed anti-worker provisions in the contract, violating U.S. laws that allow collective bargaining rights in the federal workplace. We also argued that the panel did not have a quorum when it decided the case; it had only six members when the law required seven.

While the lawsuit was pending, AFGE and SSA went back to the negotiating table. AFGE agreed to withdraw SSA from the lawsuit if both parties came up with a mutually agreed upon contract.

Under the new contract, which is final and binding, SSA employees will be able to, among other things:

  • File a grievance over the same issues they have been able to prior to the new contract. These issues, including disciplinary and adverse personnel actions for performance or conduct, performance evaluation, and reduction in force, would have been barred by Trump’s executive orders.
  • Access their union on the worksite as the union will maintain an office space.
  • Seek the union’s help in fighting unfair treatment, retaliation, or discrimination as union representatives are allowed certain hours in their workdays to file grievances, meet with and respond to management. These hours, however, have been reduced.
  • Rest assured that management will not distribute or withhold overtime as an award or penalty.

The contract lasts six years instead of seven as originally proposed by SSA.

Other changes in the contract:

  • The agency will maintain the telework program but it’s at the agency’s discretion.
  • Programs that help employees improve their performance before being put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) will be eliminated. These are Performance Assistance Plans and Opportunity to Perform Successfully plans. Only the 60-day PIP period remains.
  • Vision Reimbursement – a program that offered eyewear subsidies – will no longer be offered.
  • Performance Quality Reviews will be at management’s discretion.

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