SSA Ordered to Negotiate with AFGE Over Space Heater Usage

Thanks to the help and expertise of AFGE’s Field Services and Education Department (FSED), Social Security Administration (SSA) employees are no longer left in the cold, literally. SSA was trying to ban the use of space heaters in the office but also refused to do anything about the conditions that led to the use of the heaters or to provide a permissible replacement for the removed personal heater. The agency also refused to bargain with the union over the issue, prompting the AFGE SSA General Committee to appeal the case to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).

After reviewing the case, the FLRA found that the issue is a mandatory object of bargaining and ordered SSA to bargain with AFGE. The decision not only applies to all SSA employees in our bargaining unit but also the entire federal sector. 

“The value of the decision goes beyond this set of negotiations. It can be used for precedent in other situations where management refuses to bargain and raises some of the defenses that SSA tried,” said Charlie Bernhardt, FSED labor relations and wage specialist who provides assistance to the AFGE SSA General Committee on the case. “But we still have a lot of work to do in terms of getting our proposal into an actual agreement.”


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