AFGE National VA Council is set to file a national grievance against the Department of Veterans Affairs after the agency refused to negotiate President Trump’s anti-worker executive orders with the union.
The council and VA management met on Dec. 3 in Washington, D.C. to discuss several articles of the new contract. The VA, however, refused to discuss the implementation of the EOs even though the VA has facilities sporadically implementing them and despite our discussion of official time and the union’s use of official facilities, both of which are implicated by the EOs.
In fact, the VA’s point of contact on the EOs was in the building when negotiations took place. The official, who is also a member of the VA bargaining team, remained in the VA’s caucus room and refused to meet with the union.
“They’re paying for his travel to not talk to us about the EOs,” said AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee.
The VA simply doesn’t care about veterans or employees
The union has hoped that the new contract would provide VA employees with the resources and support they need to do their jobs, but it’s clear the VA doesn’t really care about its employees or the veterans they serve.
The anti-worker executive orders hurt morale and drive away doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals our veterans rely on. By refusing to bargain, VA is guaranteeing that severe staffing shortages at the agency will worsen as employees feel attacked and vulnerable to retaliation if they report safety issues, waste, fraud, or abuse.
The EOs will also make it harder for employees to have access to union representation and information about their rights.
The VA currently has 49,000 vacancies across the country, but VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told Congress filling these vacancies is not this administration’s priority. The agency is instead sending veterans to expensive, for-profit providers who are not specialized in veterans’ illnesses and can’t be held accountable if things go wrong.