AFGE and the Department of Education have reached a settlement agreement over 14 unfair labor practice (ULP) charges the union filed against the agency after it unilaterally and illegally imposed a contract on employees in 2018 during the Trump administration.
In the settlement reached with AFGE, the agency agreed to:
- Restore to payroll dues deduction any current employee it removed from payroll dues deduction without the employee’s consent. The agency systemically dropped about 600 employees – all AFGE members – off of payroll dues deduction between July 2018 and 2020;
- Put in place a mutually agreed upon collective bargaining agreement to replace the unilaterally imposed contract;
- Refund lost union dues the agency failed to deduct and pay to AFGE when it unilaterally removed employees from dues deduction. The agency also agreed to waive its right to recoup that money from the employees;
- Allow bargaining unit employees to file grievances over agency actions, which were prohibited under the 2018 unilaterally imposed agreement;
- Return union office space and equipment;
- Make whole bargaining unit employees who were disciplined or suffered performance based actions resulting in whole or in part from the agency’s reorganization, which it did not bargain with AFGE;
- Engage in post-implementation bargaining over policies which had not been bargained with AFGE;
- Compensate union officials for denied official time;
- Pay AFGE attorney fees for the 10 grievance/arbitration cases covered in the settlement;
- Send postings to every bargaining unit employee that will be signed by the Secretary or Deputy Secretary regarding each of the 14 ULP complaints the FLRA issued.
“AFGE is always going to fight for the rights of the employees we represent and our rights as the union,” said AFGE Deputy General Counsel Cathie McQuiston. “And this fight took over 4 years, but we turned back all the illegal attempts by the Trump administration to bust the union at Department of Education. We had our rights restored and want this to be a lesson for any future administrations that try these kind of union-busting tactics that AFGE will never give up fighting for the employees we represent.”
Under the Trump administration, the Department of Education engaged in a three-year campaign to strip its employees of their fundamental rights and destroy their union.
AFGE, which is the exclusive representative for nearly 4,000 Department of Education employees nationwide, filed our first unfair labor practice charge against the department in March 2018 after management refused to bargain in good faith with the union over a new contract and instead imposed its own illegal management edict on the workforce.
Four months later, the FLRA announced that its investigator had found merit in the union’s ULP charge. Yet the agency refused to comply with the finding – and could not be compelled to do so due to the Trump administration’s failure to appoint a FLRA general counsel, who is the only person authorized to issue formal complaints.
In the months and years since, the department continued to violate labor law in a myriad of ways. It implemented changes to telework policies, imposed new employee performance standards, reorganized the chief information officer’s office, and relocated both the Chicago and Dallas regional offices all without negotiating with the union. It also denied union leaders the ability to provide fair representation to employees, refused to recognize union leaders in its regional offices, and refused to negotiate over labor-management changes ordered by President Trump.
AFGE filed 14 ULPs against the agency between March 2018 and August 2020.
The FLRA consolidated the 14 charges into one complaint and last year found the department guilty of 14 violations of labor law as charged by AFGE.
Our union has since worked hard to get the department to comply with the law, restore employees’ rights, and make sure they are made whole for losses resulting from the department’s illegal actions.