"This is a great opportunity for frank and open discussion on topics that are important to both management and the union," Wolfenbarger said. "As the Partnership Council's vision says, the dialogue we share in this forum will help us take care of the people who in turn take care of the mission."
An update on the command's transition to the 5-Center construct highlighted the effectiveness of the restructure as well as the benefits gained by involving the union early in the process. Wolfenbarger cited the restructure as a prime opportunity for management and the union to work collaboratively -- and pre-decisionally -- on implementation.
A personnel overview included an example of that collaboration. Early work with the union to mitigate impacts to civilian employees helped make the transition successful, said an AFMC manpower and personnel official.
The meeting also included a presentation on alternative dispute resolution and a briefing about AFMC's financial outlook.
Continuing the financial theme, Cox said that pay and benefits will continue to be a big issue across the federal government.
"I will be spending a great deal of my time -- as will all of AFGE -- working on these issues over the next several months," he said. "One thing that the union gets is the ability to lobby to Congress on behalf of federal employees."
In addition to the standard agenda, the meeting also included a briefing of the Partnership Council's annual report by council co-chairs Dr. Steve Butler, AFMC executive director, and Troy Tingey, newly elected AFGE Council 214 president. They highlighted milestones from the past year, including approval and implementation of the Master Labor Agreement in April 2012 and completion of Executive Order, Labor Management Forum training by all Partnership Council members, union presidents, labor relations officers and employee relations specialists across the command.
The Partnership Council was formed in the late 1990s, following several turbulent years of labor relations in the command. In addition to the co-chairs, the council consists of four union representatives, who usually are AFGE local chapter presidents from AFMC bases, as well as four management members, who often are executive directors from AFMC centers. Most AFMC bases also have a local version of the council.